Restive locals turn to Hua Hin

Restive locals turn to Hua Hin

Tourists ride horses at Hua Hin beach. Hotels there recorded higher occupancy in May from locals. Thanarak Khunton
Tourists ride horses at Hua Hin beach. Hotels there recorded higher occupancy in May from locals. Thanarak Khunton

Working from a resort is the latest trend in Hua Hin, with seaside hotels packed last weekend and set to remain busy through the end of June.

Chotechuang Soorangura, managing director of NS Travel and Tours, said hotels owned by his group in Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi and Sukhothai began seeing local guests check in last week. The seaside town of Hua Hin saw 100% occupancy rates on May 30 and 31.

"We've started to see pent-up demand from local travellers, as a number of resorts in Hua Hin, not only us, received a lot of guests from Bangkok every day last week, and strong bookings continued for this week after hotels in this area were allowed to open from May 18," Mr Chotechuang said.

He said some guests decided to change their working locations to escape the sameness of two months of working from home.

The last week of May also marked the end of working from home policies for many companies nationwide, which prompted a number of guests to seize this last chance before going back to the daily office routine in June.

The occupancy rate for weekdays this month is still running around 60-80%, while forward booking for weekends reached its peak at 100%, resulting from advanced voucher sales in the domestic market that many hotels launched during lockdown to increase cash flow.

Mr Chotechuang, also a committee member of the Thai Travel Agents Association, said while hotels within driving distance of Bangkok are showing strong recovery signs, domestic tour operators may have to wait until July to hit the road again because people prefer to drive their own cars.

He said inter-provincial group tours may resume once restrictions between provinces are lifted, but the feedback is not expected to be strong as people will be concerned more about health.

"We have to prepare for health safety measures, which costs us an additional 30% as tour buses can only carry 23 people, down from the full capacity of 44, to comply with physical distancing rules," Mr Chotechuang said.

The cost of airfare is also rising about 30% as airlines have to increase sales prices to compensate for seats that have to be left empty.

Even though the Japanese government has recently been considering easing entry bans for visitors from Thailand, outbound tour operators cannot benefit from this decision immediately as long as returnees from Japan have to be sent to state quarantine for 14 days.

Outbound movement will occur as soon as there is agreement from two sides to refrain from keeping tourists in isolation.

Udom Srimahachota, executive director of Baan Talay Dao Resort and vice-president of the Thai Hotels Association's western chapter, said the occupancy rate in Hua Hin closed at 40% in May, higher than the 20-30% expected.

He said hotel guests are a mix of Thais and foreign expats who tend to stay for 2-3 nights, up from only one night before the pandemic.

Mr Udom's hotel was fully booked this past weekend for the first time since reopening, and expects the same this weekend as the province doesn't have 14-day quarantine requirements for visitors.

There have been no new cases in the province for more than one month, which boosts tourist confidence, and tourism operators in the province are talking to the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Prachuap Khiri Khan office about domestic tourism campaigns.

Mr Udom said his resort may introduce work-from-resort promotions for bookings of 5-7 nights in response to recent demand from guests.

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