Hotels face grim outlook

Hotels face grim outlook

Domestic demand crushed by curbs

A desolate atmosphere along Walking Street in Pattaya, as Covid travel restrictions force businesses to remain closed. Nutthawat Wichieanbut
A desolate atmosphere along Walking Street in Pattaya, as Covid travel restrictions force businesses to remain closed. Nutthawat Wichieanbut

Domestic demand for hotels remains gloomy because of the steady daily rise in new infections, forcing hoteliers to hope for a big reopening scheme for foreign visitors to shore up travel demand.

Tighter travel restrictions on locals to curb the new outbreak have caused domestic tourist arrivals in Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga to hit rock bottom, said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association (THA).

The number of tourists using the Phuket sandbox scheme, which reached around 10,000 in the first month, had a limited impact given there are 30,000 rooms available on the island, which is used to welcoming 1 million tourists per month. Hotel operators are looking forward to an improved situation starting in October.

Mr Kongsak said the upcoming 7+7 sandbox extension, which allows tourists to stay in Phuket for seven days before visiting other islands, will attract more travellers and income to the Andaman islands.

"If the reopening plan moves forward and the country can control the outbreak more effectively, leading the EU to place Thailand back on the safe travel list, we can expect a surge in demand of 20-30% at the end of the year," he said.

Ruengnam Chaikwang, president of the THA's southern chapter for the east coast, said the occupancy rate in June sank to 6.64% amid the latest outbreak, while demand for the Samui Plus reopening initiative remained tepid.

The requirement to spend seven days in quarantine facilities is the key factor deterring tourists, said Mr Ruengnam. Travel agents are reluctant to roll out marketing campaigns if the mandatory quarantine requirement is not lifted.

After Chon Buri was recently downgraded to a dark red zone, domestic tourism there evaporated, said Phisut Sae-Khu, president of THA's eastern chapter.

He urged the government to accelerate its vaccination plan for "Pattaya Moves On" as only 20% of the target population has been vaccinated. Operators are negotiating with the Chon Buri Provincial Public Health Office to procure 50,000-60,000 vaccine doses for frontline tourism workers, said Mr Phisut.

La-Iad Bungsrithong, president of THA's northern chapter, said "Charming Chiang Mai", the reopening plan set for Sept 1, also faces a vaccine shortage. At present, only 18% of residents are vaccinated.

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