Accor set to expand presence in Thailand

Some 17 hotels ready to open in five years

ibis Chiang Mai Nimman Journeyhub.

Accor is continuing to expand its footprint in Thailand with at least 17 additional hotels scheduled to open in five years.

The company is pleading for the easing of travel restrictions to increase competitiveness for Thai tourism.

Garth Simmons, chief executive at Accor for Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, said Accor set a goal to add roughly 10,000 rooms in the region this year, of which 2,500 rooms are to be in Thailand.

The company recently signed hotel management agreements for ibis Styles Bangkok Twin Towers and ibis Chiangmai Nimman Journeyhub which will help grow the number of hotels in the pipeline to 17 hotels or 3,692 rooms.

Last year, Accor inked management deals for 29 hotels, generating 6,900 rooms across Southeast Asia, the Maldives, Japan and South Korea, of which four hotels generating 1,100 keys will be located in Thailand.

At present, Accor manages a combined 87 hotels with 20,231 rooms, becoming the largest international hotelier in Thailand.

He said even though there is strong tourism demand for Thailand, the industry is poised to face another tough year as Chinese tourists are not expected to travel abroad due to border closures and the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict.

He said the government's target of at least 10 million international travellers this year seems too optimistic to be achieved because flight connectivity hasn't fully resumed, while the peak tourism season already passed.

The country has to build its momentum for the next high season, particularly on travel rules, to hope for stronger returns in 2023.

"Entry restrictions, travel costs and processes are the major threats to our business as Thailand will have to compete with other destinations that are now reopening. The ease of travel is important," Mr Simmons said.

Travel rules must be improved along with the government's continuous support of active international marketing plans to highlight the country as a preferred destination.

During the first phase of reopening of the Test & Go scheme on Nov 1, 2021, the occupancy rate for Accor hotels in Phuket stood between 14-66%.

Some properties saw more than 80% occupancy after the resumption of the programme in February.

After entry rules were relaxed in March, the hotel situation has seen strong pent-up demand, particularly in Pattaya and Krabi, while the situation in Bangkok and Phuket remains flat.

Apart from the European market, India and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are promising markets to support Thai tourism.

Moreover, Japan tourists who tend to visit short-haul destinations also have potential to create two-way tourism with Thailand as many Thais want to visit Japan once the restrictions are lifted.

Meanwhile, the We Travel Together, a hotel subsidy, seen as the basic tool to maintain the level of domestic demand, should continue as hotels heavily rely on this campaign during the first half.

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