Hotels want new stimulus phase sped up

Hotels want new stimulus phase sped up

Sector eager for renewed subsidy

A smartphone displays the Pao Tang app with the
A smartphone displays the Pao Tang app with the "We Travel Together" hotel subsidy scheme. (Photo: Chakkrapan Natanri)

Even with the Chinese market poised to return, local hotels still want the government to accelerate the launch of the new phase of the domestic stimulus scheme after another delay at the cabinet meeting last week.

La-iad Bungsrithong, board advisor for the Thai Hotels Association, said the "We Travel Together" hotel subsidy scheme provides integral support for hotels and domestic tourists in terms of spending.

However, the allocation of 560,000 rooms for the new phase might be too low to generate income for the industry nationwide, she said.

The government should add some criteria for the privilege, such as allowing bookings only on weekdays to help steer tourists to less crowded days, said Mrs La-iad.

She said during previous phases, hotel operators faced delayed payments and other obstacles, but these did not deter hotels from participating in the scheme.

Mrs La-iad said the government should continue subsidising conference meetings that use hotel services and persuade large corporate and government agencies to hold meetings in the provinces. These measures could be facilitated by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.

She said the room rate in Chiang Mai this quarter is estimated to increase across all segments, with an average occupancy rate of around 65%.

At present, 70% of hotels in Chiang Mai have reopened and more suspended businesses will resume in the third quarter when large Chinese tour groups are allowed to travel abroad, said Mrs La-iad.

She said increasing non-stop flights between cities in China and Chiang Mai is a sign of the gradual recovery of the mainland market.

Thanet Supornsahasrangsi, president of the Tourism Council of Chonburi, said even though the new phase of We Travel Together might offer fewer rooms, it is better than no subsidy.

He said Pattaya last year was dependent on the domestic market, accounting for 80% of visitors, up from about 45% before the pandemic.

Pattaya has welcomed more foreign tourists recently, but operators still have to diversify risks to as many markets as possible, said Mr Thanet.

However, he said bookings from local tourists could dip from last year because many countries have reopened without restrictions, luring more Thais to set aside their budgets for outbound trips.

Mr Thanet said the scheme has a flaw as it tends to benefit four- and five-star hotels, international branded properties as well as those with beachfront locations, rather than small or unbranded hotels.

The government can help create inclusive growth by supporting other groups, such as student tourists, to choose those hotels, he said.

Mr Thanet said the hotel occupancy rate in Pattaya during the cool season was 60-70%, thanks to long-stay foreign tourists, largely from Europe and Russia, while the room rate is still 30-40% lower than the pre-pandemic rate.

Hotels that previously targeted the Chinese market remain closed at the moment, he said.

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