New Year prospects raise hoteliers' spirits
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New Year prospects raise hoteliers' spirits

Hoteliers are banking on a new flow of Indian arrivals and the relaxation of restrictions on alcohol sales as well as events to lift New Year sentiment.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the average occupancy for Bangkok hotels might increase from 20% to 30% next month, except for those along the Chao Phraya River which could get around 40% for the New Year market.

She said the average room rates for Bangkok continue to drop from the lack of international arrivals despite the upcoming New Year holidays.

Hotel operators are waiting for the government to announce additional regulations for countdown events, such as mass gatherings and alcohol sales which currently are allowed until 9pm.

"The upcoming New Year season might not be bustling with tourists as they disperse to other destinations, but the hotel situation will improve from the same period last year when the country was overwhelmed by the second wave of Covid," Mrs Marisa said.

She said a more positive sign is expected for hotels in Bangkok and Pattaya once more Indian tourists return when commercial flights resume in December.

Nopparat Aumpa, senior assistant vice-president and general manager of Banyan Tree Bangkok, said the government has to extend the sale of alcohol until midnight, particularly during the festive season as dining among foreign tourists usually starts late at around 8pm.

Ms Nopparat said more than 50% of hotel revenue stems from food and beverages, but due to social distancing rules which limit seat capacity to 75%, the hotel business still faces lower income.

"The average daily rate [ADR] for hotels in Bangkok was just 65% of 2019 level and is gently moving up," said Jesper Palmqvist, area director for Asia-Pacific for STR, a market data firm.

Other hotel classes are gradually seeing an upward trend, but luxury hotels are struggling because of weak occupancy which lags behind 2019 and low ADR amid the low demand.

Forward bookings for hotels in Bangkok continue to linger below 20% over the next 90 days until the year-end celebrations help stimulate the occupancy to 20% before plunging to single digits in early 2022.

Speaking at the virtual forum "Bangkok is Back – The Travel, Tourism and Hotel Briefing", Mr Palmqvist said travellers are ready to visit Thailand, but they head to islands and resort destinations as they don't have confidence in the capital.

Besides the slow recovery, new supply in Bangkok during 2021-22, which accounted for about 6%, will add more pressure to the market.

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