Centara prepares to reopen hotels in Q4
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Centara prepares to reopen hotels in Q4

Scheme depends on vaccination

Centara Grand Phuket is expected to see 18-20% occupancy in the first month of the Phuket sandbox scheme.
Centara Grand Phuket is expected to see 18-20% occupancy in the first month of the Phuket sandbox scheme.

Centara aims to reopen all its hotels in Thailand by the fourth quarter as it urges the government to procure adequate vaccines and booster shots to achieve herd immunity.

There is no way to overcome the pandemic other than a rapid vaccination rollout, which should be considered an emergency, said Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive of Centara Hotels and Resorts. He urged the government to put its words into action after promising to secure 100-150 million vaccine doses this year.

Mr Thirayuth said because fully vaccinated people can still become infected, a wide range of vaccines are needed.

Regarding the Phuket sandbox, he said communication with target markets such as the UK and Europe is important to build awareness about the scheme, rather than marketing the whole country, which is suffering from a rapid rise in infections.

Mr Thirayuth said Centara Grand Phuket is its only property on Phuket open to tourists as part of the sandbox. Its three other hotels on the island are slated to reopen between August and September.

The occupancy rate of the hotel in July is expected to be 18-20%, with guests coming from the UAE, Britain, Canada and the US. Forward bookings for August stand at 15% and should improve to 20-25% by the third quarter, he said.

Centara Reserve Samui should be ready to feature in the Samui Plus scheme for inoculated tourists from August, following two years of renovations and rebranding, said Mr Thirayuth.

The company is working on a marketing plan to explore the potential of pent-up demand once the hotel reopens. The domestic market is the first target.

Some 60% of Centara's 38 properties in Thailand are temporarily closed. When all hotels resume operations in the fourth quarter, the occupancy rate could be 40%-50% if there is no new outbreak, he said.

An annual capital expenditure of 3.6 billion baht is allocated for three major projects: Centara Reserve Samui, Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai and the construction of Centara Grand Hotel Osaka, said Mr Thirayuth. Other projects are on pause to preserve liquidity.

The outlook this year remains difficult to predict, he said. Revenue is unlikely to recover to 2019 levels -- 8.5 billion baht -- until 2023 or 2024, depending on the vaccination pace.

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