Hoteliers uneasy over Northeast drought

Hoteliers uneasy over Northeast drought

Operations could be hit by water shortfall

Drought has hit many areas of Surin province.  (Photo by Nopparat Kingkaew)
Drought has hit many areas of Surin province.  (Photo by Nopparat Kingkaew)

The prolonged drought, especially in the Northeast, has raised concerns among local hoteliers about a possible shortfall of water for consumption in the industry.

Hotel operators in the region have been monitoring the water supply closely as several provinces in the Northeast, particularly Surin, Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima, face a drought.

"So far there has not been a direct impact from the drought on hotels, but the dry spell might have a psychological effect on tourists and cause them to avoid the area," said Napop Laiwisetkul, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA) lower northeastern chapter, which covers Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Sa Ket, Chaiyaphum, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen.

Mr Napop said some provinces, namely Buri Ram, Surin, Chaiyaphum and Nakhon Ratchasima, are suffering from drought even in the rainy season, but hotels are still operating.

For the hospitality sector, unlimited access to water is considered a staple. More than half of hotels' water consumption goes to laundry and kitchen operations, while 30% is for guestrooms.

The rest is for other activities such as swimming pools and gardening.

While water remains scarce, it's best for hoteliers to educate staff about resource efficiency, conservation and even recycling water, Mr Napop said.

Water pipes should be inspected and any leaks should be repaired promptly to prevent waste, he said. Building awareness about water saving among guests is another way to help reduce water usage.

If the situation worsens, temporarily closure is a choice, but Mr Napop hopes this will not occur.

Supawan Tanomkieatipume, president of the THA, voiced confidence that the drought would not affect hotel business in the Northeast. She said most properties are located in the centre of each province, in areas less affected by drought.

But Ms Supawan said the overall hotel situation in Thailand for the rest of the year is expected to drop slightly, due to factors such as lower international arrivals and the slowing domestic economy.

In the third quarter, average occupancy rate is expected at 68%, lower than the normal level of 75%. But that would be higher than last year's, which stood at 60% after the Phuket boat accident discouraged Chinese visitors.

Besides a drop in foreign arrivals, Ms Supawan said oversupply, especially in popular tourism areas, is another negative factor trimming hotel occupancy rates.

For the fourth quarter, which is the high season, she expects a 75% occupancy rate, lower than 80% in the same period last year.

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