STR: Hotels to dangle until 2024

STR: Hotels to dangle until 2024

Key markets getting new infection waves

The hospitality industry in Thailand and Asia will have to wait until 2024 at the earliest to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to STR, a hospitality market analyst.

The situation remains volatile as markets looking to get past the coronavirus have seen renewed outbreaks, said Jesper Palmqvist, area director of Asia-Pacific for STR.

New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, the Maldives and many countries in Europe have reported a new wave of infections.

China was hit by a second wave in Beijing and Dalian as well, but its methods have allowed it to control the outbreak and continue a recovery, Mr Palmqvist said.

Domestic travel in China makes up the majority of tourism there, allowing it to almost match figures from 2019.

Mr Palmqvist said Thai hotels showed a consistent pattern of average occupancy rates of 15% from June 6 until Aug 31, peaking at 30% on weekends, similar to other countries in the region.

The global trading situation, travel restrictions and border closures in many places, as well as air capacity over the past few months, affected the long-term outlook.

The market recovery prediction was based on an assumption that a Covid-19 vaccine is successfully developed by the first quarter of next year, Mr Palmqvist said.

According to the World Health Organization, 169 vaccine candidates globally are under development, of which 26 are in the human trial phase.

The impact from the global health emergency will continue to ravage the industry until the second quarter of 2021, when business starts to improve more rapidly.

As the outbreak has caused stiff financial conditions for hoteliers, forcing them to put properties up for sale, Mr Palmqvist said there is an opportunity for such activity to happen, while debt poses a challenging situation as well.

STR expects more distressed sales in the West, including some with Asian buyers. The financial hardship will accelerate restructuring, reorganisation and merger/acquisition activity in the industry.

In order to maintain business during this challenging time, hotel operators should prepare the playbook and operational setup, seek collaboration and find ways of reopening separate travel channels to make a profit, such as automation and data usage, while maintaining sustainability, STR said.

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