MINT chief pushes for end of travel restrictions

MINT chief pushes for end of travel restrictions

A tourist wears a face mask to prevent spread of the coronavirus disease during sunset near the Grand Palace on Jan 7, 2022. (Reuters photo)
A tourist wears a face mask to prevent spread of the coronavirus disease during sunset near the Grand Palace on Jan 7, 2022. (Reuters photo)

The government must drop all Covid travel restrictions before the tentative date of June 1 to rescue the economy before it is too late, says the founder of Minor International (MINT).

"The removal of Thailand Pass under the Test and Go scheme on June 1 is too late. We believe lifting all travel restrictions should be done immediately as the rest of the world is already opening up," said William Heinecke, MINT founder and chairman.

Many people want to visit the country during Songkran and Easter, but too many restrictions deter tourists, he said.

Thailand is suffering as the government has shattered tourism opportunities, causing many hotels to start laying off workers again after seeing inflation increase, said Mr Heinecke.

"I hope the public health minister and prime minister will look carefully at this issue and make the right decision to help the economy before we die," he said.

Without travel rules, Thai tourism will bounce back within a year, even without the Chinese market, as seen in the Maldives, which has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels, said Mr Heinecke.

Saudi Arabia, which restored relations with Thailand after a 32-year break, is a quality market with high spending the sector can target, he said.

The wellness segment has high potential to attract tourists from Europe and the Americas, which are the main feeder markets for Thai tourism at the moment, said Mr Heinecke.

Minor Hotels, the hospitality arm of MINT, recently launched new wellness services from VLCC, India's largest beauty and wellness operator.

With a budget of 20-30 million baht, Avani+ Hua Hin, which is popular among the Indian market, is the first resort to feature services from VLCC.

The company plans to roll out this service to other locations in Thailand and overseas.

Minor Hotels plans to add new wellness, food and sports products at 550 hotels globally, he said. The firm expects to open another 50 new hotels over three years, he said.

VLCC, which operates at 217 locations in 12 countries across Asia, the Middle East and East Africa, will support the wellness workforce and equipment in partnership with Minor Hotels.

Minor Hotels also partners with wellness brands Clinique La Prairie, Vivid by Verita Health and RAKxa to capitalise on the global wellness market valued at US$1.1 trillion.

With a goal to have more than 100 wellness offerings at its properties in five years, Mr Heinecke said revenue from the spa and wellness segment is estimated to account for 10% of total revenue.

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