Hoteliers see tepid tourism prospects

Hoteliers see tepid tourism prospects

Resorts want subsidy scheme to continue

People wade at an empty beach in Phuket last month. (Reuters photo)
People wade at an empty beach in Phuket last month. (Reuters photo)

Hoteliers are projecting a lukewarm tourism outlook while preparing their businesses amid uncertainties, despite the government's reopening plan for international arrivals.

Charintip Tiyaphorn, the financial controller at Pimalai Resort and Spa, said Phuket's tourism sandbox in July will let operators plan ahead in terms of business, yet tourism demand in the early stages will not be sufficient to benefit areas nearby if international flights to Phuket are not able to fully resume.

The hotel is working with agents who already have customers to arrange chartered flights.

Pimalai is targeting niche markets such as weddings, which normally reserve bookings 12 months before the event and pay a deposit in advance.

The hotel used to welcome around 20-30 wedding couples, generating 1-2 million baht per group, she said. At present, there are 3-4 couples from Europe waiting for the country to reopen.

Ms Charintip said the Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together) domestic subsidy scheme should be extended to the end of this year as the third quarter is the low season for the provinces along the Andaman coast.

In the second phase of the subsidy programme, the hotel earned 30 million baht from domestic guests using the benefits.

She said operators have to closely monitor the new cases that recently emerged in Bangkok.

"The second wave knocked the occupancy rate in January down to 7%, the lowest performance since the hotel has operated," said Ms Charintip.

"We will have to look for soft loans or bank loans to pay salaries if the latest wave impacts us once again."

She realises the government needs to balance health crisis management and the economy.

Meanwhile, Nantanittaya Sesaweech, assistant managing director at Horizon Village and Resort, said Chiang Mai is a pilot area scheduled to receive vaccinated tourists without quarantine by October, but clear plans regarding vaccination have not yet been acknowledged by locals.

The hotel is projecting a recovery in 2023, when the Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) market is expected to resume.

Prior to the pandemic, revenue from the Mice market accounted for nearly 90% of the hotel's total revenue.

Given the highly volatile situation concerning the pandemic, the hotel has to adapt its operations on a daily basis while carefully managing its cash flow to withstand what it expects will be a weak stretch for three years, said Ms Nantanittaya.

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