Hospitels, quarantine facilities resume with hotel services
Hospitels and alternative quarantine (AQ) facilities have returned to normal hotel operations as Covid-19 is expected to be declared endemic next month.
Thienprasit Chaiyapatranun, vice-president of the Thai Hotels Association, said hospitels, which are hotels that offer beds for patients with mild symptoms, finished operations last month, helping to ease the healthcare burden throughout the peak period of infections.
People infected with the Omicron variant mostly preferred to choose home isolation rather than hospitels, compared with patients infected with the more severe Delta variant last year.
Once hospitel services are terminated, hotels must conduct rigorous cleaning and maintenance services before switching to normal operations.
Hotels that served as hospitels that were previously reliant on Chinese groups will suffer the most, he said. The lack of workers also poses a challenge as experienced staff permanently left the hospitality business.
Mr Thienprasit said the switch to hospitel service helped maintain stable revenue for hotels amid the tourism slowdown in recent years, but reverting to hotel operations may mean moderate growth until the high season starts in October.
AQ facilities were officially withdrawn by the Department of Health Service Support on May 31. Infection levels will determine whether quarantine service returns, said Prin Pathanatham, president of Club Next Thailand, previously known as AQ Club Thailand.
During the final month of AQ operation, the number of facilities in Bangkok stood at 128 as hoteliers opted for a hybrid model to receive both quarantine guests and daily guests attending meetings and seminars.
He said arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport required to stay at AQ facilities tallied only 3-30 people per day after the rules relaxation on May 1, down from 600-700 per day in the second half of 2021.
"Around 10% of AQ hotels decided to temporarily close for renovation to prepare for the high season. Some were losing money as demand lagged, particularly hotels not affiliated with international brands," Mr Prin said.
Some AQ hoteliers have turned to the Middle East market by offering Muslim-friendly services such as halal food, while other look to domestic tourists and the meetings segment, he said.