Rebranding and consolidation stated as operator strategies

Rebranding and consolidation stated as operator strategies

A chef stands on an empty beach as he waits for the costumers on Koh Chang in Trat on July 31, 2020. (Reuters photo)
A chef stands on an empty beach as he waits for the costumers on Koh Chang in Trat on July 31, 2020. (Reuters photo)

The tourism industry is expected to witness more consolidation as the pandemic impact lasts until the third quarter next year, say operators, while Thailand needs to rebrand itself to tap into the quality market by targeting the health and wellness segment.

“We will see a lot of consolidation, even if a vaccine is developed, leading to another 3-6 months after vaccine development to restart tourism,” said Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation (AAV), the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA).

He said TAA flies only 25 aircraft from the 60 in its fleet. The airline is ready to serve international routes as soon as Thailand has a scheme ready to welcome international travellers, but this is not likely to happen before the third quarter next year, said Mr Tassapon.

As the duration of the impact has exceeded previous forecasts, the industry will take at least two years to fully recover, he said.

A media report said a vaccine invented by the University of Oxford could be successfully produced by next year at the earliest. By this time, airlines will have endured four quarters of emergency measures to maintain sufficient cash flow, said Mr Tassapon.

“While Thai tourists venture out everyday, their spending does not match that of international travellers. They typically stay two nights at a destination maximum and have refrained from taking flights,” he said.

Suphajee Suthumpun, group chief executive of Dusit International, said both local and overseas funds are looking to invest in hotel assets, particularly as many owners struggle to break even.

Hospitality companies have to rethink their lease models, especially for situations when hotels have to close but still have to pay rent.

Mrs Suphajee suggested hoteliers look for collaborations beyond the industry, provide new safety and hygiene measures and include more technology in hotel operations for better service.

“We have to rebrand our country to move forward from quantity to quality,” she said.

“Thailand could be a destination where people feel safe because our medical standards and healthcare system are second to none.”

Speaking at the same virtual conference on Thailan Focus 2020 hosted by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Artirat Charukitpipat, chief executive of Bumrungrad Hospital, said safety and quality is key for the medical sector.

Hospitals have to prepare for behavioural changes, particularly telemedicine consultations, as people prefer not to visit hospitals.

There are rising opportunities for alternative state quarantine hotels or alternative hospital quarantine facilities as Bumrungrad is looking after 500 guests in five certified properties.

Srisuda Wanapinyosak, deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the group is promoting health and wellness with an aim to become "the resort of the world" in 5-6 years.

The agency has targeted 3 million overseas Thais as part of this segment.

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