Hotel market remains tepid thanks to Omicron
Growing uncertainties triggered by tighter curbs against the Covid-19 Omicron variant are dashing hoteliers' hopes of cashing in during the peak tourist season.
"The hotel situation remains tepid despite the reopening in November and the beginning of the festive season. The number of international travellers didn't significantly improve, particularly after Omicron emerged," said Daecha Tangsin, executive vice-president of the Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside.
Meanwhile, as New Year celebrations in many places were cancelled, local tourists have more concerns about going out to celebrate.
The Ramada hotel has 30% occupancy for the New Year holiday, while occupancy for riverside hotels hovers around 30-50%.
Mr Daecha said international Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) demand hasn't returned yet, but the hotel still has domestic meetings, seminars and weddings.
If Thailand controls the virus spread by January, tourists from Asia excluding China might return during the Chinese New Year holiday in February, he said.
Thienprasit Chaiyapatranun, vice-president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the current average occupancy rate of Bangkok hotels is 30-40%. The international market has been affected by stringent travel regulations in Thailand and other countries.
The THA and tourism associations in Pattaya, Hua Hin and Rayong recently submitted a petition to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, urging the authorities to assign Bangkok and nearby destinations to the sandbox model after the "Test & Go" scheme was temporarily suspended until Jan 4, 2022.
Mr Thienprasit said the government needs to balance public health and the economy as the sandbox programme could allow hoteliers in Bangkok to stay afloat.
Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive of Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the company was unfazed by year-end holiday countdown events being cancelled as guests can celebrate at hotel restaurants. However, the hotel business will be impacted if an inter-provincial travel ban is reimposed, especially at major tourism destinations, he said.
Year-end bookings for Centara Grand @CentralWorld, a central location for the capital's countdown event, stand at 70%, said Mr Thirayuth.
Room rates have increased, but are still 20-25% lower than in 2019, he said.
Mr Thirayuth said the company's main concern is the first quarter of 2022, as bookings have slowed because of fresh travel restrictions in Thailand and source markets.
He said there have been cancellations for January and February in Phuket, Krabi and Hua Hin after the Test & Go suspension, but tourists might return when an update is announced in early January.
- Chinese New Year