Tycoon's property unit sees earnings jump on tourism boom
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Tycoon's property unit sees earnings jump on tourism boom

People seek out travel deals at a Thai tourism fair last year. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
People seek out travel deals at a Thai tourism fair last year. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

A Thai developer of hotels and shopping malls controlled by Thailand's richest man expects the recent surge in international tourists to boost its first quarter earnings this year.

Asset World Corp's hotel properties have seen revenue per available room — a key profitability metric — grow to record highs this year, according to Chief Executive Officer Wallapa Traisorat. Average occupancy rates for the company's hotels, which include several under the Marriott International Inc and Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd brand, are over 80% right now. That’s higher than 65% in the fourth quarter, the normal peak period for Thailand tourism. 

"There is very strong growth momentum for our hotels, especially with the return of Chinese visitors," Mrs Wallapa said in an interview last week. Room demand has also stayed high in March, typically a time when bookings slow down as warm weather arrives in other countries, she added. 

Asset World, controlled by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's TCC Group, has benefited from a government push to lure more tourists. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, also the finance minister, has announced more entertainment events and visa waivers in a bid to make Southeast Asia's second-largest economy a tourism hub. Visa exemptions have been granted for several countries, including China — which made up the largest group of visitors to Thailand before the coronavirus pandemic in 2019.

Tourism-related businesses like Asset World and Thai Airways International Pcl have seen their earnings jump as tourists have come flocking back. About 5.98 million foreigners visited Thailand in the first two months of 2024, a 48% increase compared to the same period last year. 

Asset World, which is based in Bangkok, has over 20 hotels, seven shopping malls and four office buildings in its portfolio, according to its website. The company was publicly listed in Thailand in 2019. The majority owner Charoen, Wallapa’s father, has a net worth of US$11.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Thailand's richest man, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The company is planning to boost spending to renovate its offices and retail properties to lure new tenants, as both segments have been a drag on earnings growth, Wallapa said. The occupancy rate at Asset World’s office properties is about 68%, unchanged from last quarter, and the company expects a gradual improvement in office demand, she added. 

As part of efforts to cut financial costs, Asset World is also speaking with banks to refinance existing debt, according to Ms Wallapa. 

Asset World said in February that net income for 2023 had jumped 31% to a record high since it listed. Shares of the company have gained 11% this year, compared to a 6% boost in the gauge of tourism and leisure companies.

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