Hotels concerned over World Cup TV broadcast uncertainty
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Hotels concerned over World Cup TV broadcast uncertainty

A sign promotes Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. REUTERS
A sign promotes Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. REUTERS

Hotel operators say they are worried by uncertainties over live broadcast of the upcoming World Cup in Thailand, even though most tourists have other priorities when choosing their holiday destination.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission will on Wednesday announce whether it will support the 1.6-billion-baht broadcast rights, while negotiations over the price with Fifa are still underway.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said tourists expect to be able to watch the World Cup, and most of them think this is the default service they should have during their stays in hotels.

"As the tournament is a month-long event, if Thailand fails to secure the licence, a number of tourists won't be satisfied with the experience during their trip. We are now waiting for conclusion from the related authorities," she said.

Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of THA, said hotel guests have started to ask for clarity over the live broadcast of the event in Thailand.

However, the association anticipated that there would be no great impact on travel decisions, as tourists who planned trips to Phuket in November and December were comprised of various segments, such as families. Not every group was concerned about not having live World Cup matches to watch during their holidays.

"There will be guests who will be disappointed if they have to miss the World Cup, but it will not impact overall sentiment as the majority have already planned their trips without taking this point into consideration," Mr Suksit said.

He said that if Thailand could not secure the broadcast licence this year, the impact in terms of business would likely be on restaurants or entertainment venues, as they usually drive sales through promotions with the live football matches.

He said restaurants, pubs or hotels might have to find alternative channels to get live streaming for audiences by using their own budget.

Tourism operators were more worried about insufficient seat capacity on airlines as the number of daily flights to Thailand in November is 180-200, which was lower than the capacity of 450 flights per day before the pandemic.

THA has estimated an average occupancy rate in Phuket of 60-70% in November, while the number of hotels that have already reopened was only 50% of those in 2019, due to the lack of Chinese guests.

From Nov 1-7, Phuket saw the Russian market secure the top spot with 11,464 tourists, overtaking India in second place with 5,383 tourists. The growth of the Russian market was mainly attributed to more direct flights, on both a scheduled and chartered basis, to Phuket.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said tourists who were football fans would likely refrain from taking any overseas trips during the tournament in order to watch the games at home.

He said the main reason which was keeping tourists in their home country during the high season was surging airfares.

"If football fans have to pay a 2-3 times higher price for air tickets and have to risk missing the live broadcast, they would rather stay at home this winter," he said.

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