Operators of spas anticipate headway

Operators of spas anticipate headway

Since Wednesday of this week, the CCSA is permitting massage parlours in dark red zones to operate with service being limited to foot massages. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Since Wednesday of this week, the CCSA is permitting massage parlours in dark red zones to operate with service being limited to foot massages. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Spa operators are hoping the country's reopening and the resumption of domestic tourism in the last quarter will help their businesses, bruised by prolonged lockdown orders.

Krod Rojanastien, president of the Thai Spa Association, said most of the 8,000 registered spa businesses had been temporarily closed and around 70-80% of 300,000 employees were laid off.

The easing of restrictions on spas and massage parlours in 29 dark red zones was approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration last week and became effective as of Thursday, however, in terms of services, outlets are limited to offering foot massages.

Mr Krod said registered operators under the Health Establishment Act of 2016 and the Safety and Health Administration certificates are able to operate under the safety protocols.

However, day spa businesses are not gaining a windfall from tourists in sandbox programmes because the total is just over 20,000, which is a relatively small number and insufficient to supply the overall industry, which includes hotel spas, he said.

"The more we can reopen other potential areas, the more contributions we hope there will be for operators."

Pakin Ployphicha, managing director of Oasis Spa, said the recent relaxation will mostly benefit massage parlours, not spas which serve guests with extensive treatments and are not able to cover operation costs from a foot massage service alone.

Two branches of Oasis Spa in Phuket have already opened among its 10 branches overall covering Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya due to the restrictions to curb the virus over the past four months.

Meanwhile, 200 workers remain at Oasis Spa, compared to approximately 600 before the pandemic.

"Revenue from Phuket can cover some costs as the utilisation rate of spa rooms is still below 50%. This is better than remaining closed," Mr Pakin said.

He said at least workers have jobs and Oasis Spa can raise brand awareness in the market.

The company will consider reopening once the government allows spa businesses to fully operate and tourism demand increases, said Mr Pakin.

Domestic travellers are the target market to help shore up business and he hopes they start travelling again in the fourth quarter.

Mr Pakin said the firm has been struggling with liquidity, but joining the central bank's debt negotiation process has helped sustain business amid the current crisis which caused its business plan to be revised on a weekly basis.

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