Hotels fret as another German firm goes kaput
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Hotels fret as another German firm goes kaput

Another tour firm in Germany has filed for bankruptcy, but the impact should be minimal compared with the recent FTI insolvency, according to the Thai Hotels Association (THA).

The THA recently acknowledged an alert from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) that Itravel, a luxury tour company based in Cologne, officially filed for bankruptcy this month.

THA president Thienprasit Chaiyapatranun said hotels in southern Thailand are expected to be affected as the region hosts many luxury resorts, which is Itravel's target segment.

He said THA is in the process of gathering information from members who have been affected by Itravel's insolvency.

The association submitted a letter on Monday to the TAT and Foreign Ministry asking authorities to help hotel operators follow legal updates on the bankruptcy of German tour operator FTI, which caused hotels nationwide to lose an estimated 111 million baht.

Mr Thienprasit said THA also verbally insisted on the urgency of this case to Tourism and Sports Minister Sermsak Pongpanit during the THA monthly meeting on Monday.

Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said the agency issued an alert regarding this news to the industry following reports that hotel operators that had business arrangements with Itravel were having problems with financial transactions.

He said Itravel is an online travel agent specialising in the niche luxury segment, which means the losses might be smaller than with No.3 operator FTI.

Speaking at THA's meeting on Monday, Mr Sermsak said the ministry will seek ways to help hotels, particularly as this year's tourism revenue target of 3.5 trillion baht remains a huge challenge.

Mr Thienprasit said the association disagrees with government plans to expand foreign ownership allowed in condominiums from 49% to 75%, as it could pave the way for more illegal accommodations, in addition to making other residents uncomfortable with more daily guests in their condos.

He said a number of foreign investors already illegally rent out their rooms to daily guests, violating the Hotel Act, which allows rental for no less than 30 days.

Mr Thienprasit said increasing the condo quota for foreign ownership might attract investors with negative intentions while creating more illegal rooms, which already outnumber registered hotel rooms by two times.

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