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Thailand’s “We Travel Together” domestic tourism economic stimulus subsidy will return for a 5th time from February to August 2023.

The government has agreed to a THB3.95 billion budget and will cover 40% of hotel room rates but not exceed THB3,000.

Only Thais are eligible, with a maximum of 5 nights. They will also receive a THB600 e-voucher for food, tours, and traditional massage.

Unlike past programs, airfares are excluded so the program will be most beneficial to ‘drive to’ destinations in the country.

Leading Thai digital media outlet The Thaiger is launching a new start-up technology pitch event ‘The Thaiger Cage’ on 16th January 2023 at the Conrad Bangkok. It is a special prequel to the Thailand Tourism Forum (TTF) 2023, now in its twelfth year and widely considered to be the country’s leading annual hospitality event

The special one-hour pre-event Thaiger Cage will feature five Thailand-based start-ups who have specifically developed hospitality or tourism digital products or apps, pitching to a panel of tech entrepreneurs, moderated by Michael Kenner, CEO of Digital Broker Ventures. Each start-up will have just five minutes to pitch their ideas and business model, followed by five minutes of questions from the panel. At the end of the event, one start-up will be selected as the winner and receive an offer for investment, mentorship, and exclusive featured media exposure from The Thaiger.

The Thaiger Cage is a great opportunity for the local start-up community to collaborate, network, and gain invaluable insights from industry leaders. The event will also provide the opportunity to meet potential investors and create new partnerships as part of the Thailand Tourism Forum 2023.  The theme of the forum is Innovation Leadership and is highly focused on creating change in the Thai tourism and hospitality sectors.

Three expert judges from the start-up and VC community who will judge the entries are Bart Bellers, CEO of Xpdite Capital Partners, Pahrada (Mameaw) Sapprasert, Managing Partner of Orzon Ventures, and Thanachat (Chad) Tangsriwong, Chief Representative for CyberAgent Capital.

“We’re excited to be launching our first Thaiger Cage event,” said Michael Kenner, CEO of Digital Broker Ventures. “We believe this event will be a fantastic opportunity for the local start-up community to showcase their early-stage businesses and network within the community”

The organizer of the Thailand Tourism Forum 2023  hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks added  – coming out of the pandemic, Thailand’s hospitality industry must create a culture of innovation in tourism and hotels to remain competitive. Promoting start-ups and entrepreneurism in events such as this is a logical starting point to attract the best talent in an industry that has experienced a mass exodus of people.

If you operate a hospitality or tourism digital start-up in Thailand and you’re currently looking for investment, or if you know anyone who is – applications can be submitted HERE.










The pandemic changed everything. It has been an accelerator but also a major change-maker for Thai service workers retrenched or “paused” during the three-years Covid crippled Thailand’s hospitality industry. Many who left the sector are now in great demand to return but there is a reluctance to do so on as the sector has simply not moved on – while the digital economy has exploded.

The immediate need for qualified hospitality staff in the country’s tourism sector, which has already achieved over 10 million foreign traveler arrivals this year and is forecasting double that amount in 2023 is a clear and present danger for Thailand’s economic recovery.

Superapps like GRAB and foodpanda have changed how many people live and work – and it’s finally been recognized by the hotel industry courtesy of SAIJAI, a digital homecare platform, that has launched SAIJAI Hospitality Staffing enabling workers the flexibility to return to the industry not as the commodities they were before, but on their own terms and in a part-time capacity.

SAIJAI, which was founded during the Covid crisis, took the opportunity to identify a key gap in Thailand’s labor market. Senior managers and business owners were suddenly able to shift to online tools in a ‘Zoom Boom’ that allowed them to work-from-home and manage the emerging challenges of being a working or single parent.  Yet, a glaring disconnect occurred at the heart of the sizable Thai workforce which was largely excluded from these opportunities.

SAIJAI’s Co-Founder 28-year-old Viona Zhang, said: “Covid accelerated what was going to happen anyway, as the country has been shifting into a Western-style economy steadily over the past decade. But it has also resulted in perfect storm with rising inflation and a spiraling number of workers who are needed – but who are not attracted to service-type jobs.”

Thailand has 20 million informal workers according to the Thailand’s National Statistics Office (NSO), a segment which accounts for nearly half of the nation’s total workforce. It is this sector that was the backbone of a hospitality industry rising once again – but lacking in manpower.

The dynamics of the market during Covid changed. Dual income households, often with children and aging parents needed additional help on short term notice. This need moved SAIJAI to create a part-time platform that provided in-home services for childcare, elderly, maids, drivers, handymen, pets and even beauty and learning. It is now turning its attention to the hospitality industry with the launch of SAIJAI Hospitality Staffing which taps into its base of service workers who come from a hotel, tourism or restaurant background.

Zhang adds: “There were 1.45 million Thai hospitality workers according to the Tourism Council of Thailand who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Many are unwilling or unable to return full time to the sector, but our online platform is able to enable service workers to manage their own schedules, meet family or educational time constraints and offer them a better future.

Hospitality is a human endeavor and our social mission is one we take very seriously. We are in the process of adding low-cost health insurance access to all our partners, a SAIJAI Online Training Academy is in the works, with upskilling and life-learning as key priorities. Our approach is that a dynamic shift to part-time work is inevitable and needs to be embraced. Out platform does exactly that.”

For more about SAIJAI Home and SAIJAI Hospitality contact Viona Zhang CLICK




One of the most notable transformations for both domestic and international travelers in Thailand post-pandemic has been the realization that the old-school beach holiday stereotype is out the window. Rivers, mountains, farms, or even a jungle trek are now the hot ticket. For those who went to the just-wound-up Wonderfruit, you’ve already caught the vibe, and it won’t go away.

One of the latest destinations in Thailand that are buzzing is Khao Yai. A quick two a half hour drive from Bangkok, it can best be summed up as a ‘drive in’ getaway. Moving into the adventure zone, or going back to nature is also about escaping the four walls of a traditional cookie-cutter hotel, complete with those miniature umbrella-topped welcome drinks.

Set to the tune of a road trip soundtrack, it’s high time to admire the great outdoors with a visit to Marasca Khao Yai. This is a new boho-chic getaway with a tasty collection of 18 glamping tents, glamper suites, villas, and one very, very cool glamper van.

If you want space, you got it. Nature, a posh little bolt hole in the woods and next to the stunning World Heritage registered Dong Phayayen–Khao Yai Forest Complex. Complete with hiking and biking trails, it’s a place to try and get lost in (and hopefully found). Wander by a waterfall and, indulge in the cool weather. So cool in fact, you might want to light up that personal firepit or dive into your wooden hot tub at the Marasca.

Meanwhile back to the mountain chatter, another red-hot escape is the spanking new Intercontinental Khao Yai Resort which was designed by the creative icon Bill Bensley. This is a thematic-styled outing and homage to travel by rail. It’s romantic, has flair with all the mod-cons, and definitely goes over the top as only Bensley can.

Taking a step ahead is a  fast-developing trend in the area, the country home property market. Bolstered by the ‘Zoom Boom’ and work-from-home shift, city-weary Bangkokians are increasingly buying or building estate homes in the area at a frenzied pace according to leading Thai online real estate marketplace FazWaz.

For Thailand’s adventure set, another top journey out of the box and into the tent is the 9 Hornbills Tented Camp on Koh Yao Yai Island in Phang Nga Bay. A quick trip from Phuket International Airport to the Ao Po Grand Marina and a chance to unwind on a scenic boat trip lands you at one of the country’s most picture-perfect locations. Small, intimate, and stunning views of the famed Bond islands create a fine opportunity to reconnect with nature.

With glamping now coming into more and more Thai holiday destinations, one of Asia’s best glamping tent and fit-out suppliers is Bali’s Escape Nomade whose motto is aptly summed up as  ‘Living Without Walls’. Their designs, quality, and attention to detail are world-class.

With that, I have to get back to tending my firepit at Marasca, a name that means ‘cherry on top’, Now if I can just find a bottle of single malt scotch, I have a sky full of stars to gaze up at, and no box in sight.

This article also appeared in TheThaiger


One of Koh Samui’s best-known legacy resorts, the beachfront Tongsai Bay is now under Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts’ Garrya brand.

With 82 suites and villas situated in its own cove, the property has a strong following.

Banyan Tree’s new Garrya is a wellness centric-offering that also has properties in Japan and China.

Garrya is eying conversations as a strategy to scale into the fast-growing wellness segment.

It’s been nearly thirty years since luxury hospitality innovator KP Ho and Banyan Tree took hotel guests out of the box and into their own private villa with a swimming pool in Phuket Thailand. At the time, the idea was radical, captivating, and edged over the boundary of hospitality norms.

Fast forward to 2022 and KP’s daughter Renyung Ho has embarked on a generational leap with her own version of escaping the box, this time at the newly opened Buahan – A  Banyan Tree Escape on the outskirts of Ubud, Bali.  What’s different this time?  In a nutshell, the walls of the box have disappeared and what’s left can simply be termed an amazing journey into a magical rabbit hole.

I’d heard whispers about Buahan and on a recent trip to the Island of the Gods and decided to make an overnight side trip and see for myself what all the buzz was about. My expectations were high and from the start, I was not disappointed.

Set in the unassuming Balinese Village of Payangan, the ride in was mostly random glimpses of tropical jungle, rice terraces, a deep river gorge, and scenic rural life. My mind reset, as the images blurred. The arrival experience was a simple standalone rustic sala, as I was greeted by just one staff and a ceremonial greeting.

There was no welcome drink with a tiny umbrella, cold or warm towel, and no over-the-top resort lobby. My request to take me to my room was greeted with a gentle Bali smile and motion to follow down the winding path ahead.

Easing down the hillside and steps was a journey that didn’t seem like an unknown but into a warm and inviting place. Entering through a small gate I arrived at a spacious jungle bale. The latter is essentially a pavilion with no walls and pays homage to vernacular design. Part of my welcome talk from the host was about the use of recycled wood, a love of the land, and reliance on local materials.

Unlike so many luxury hotels I have stayed in, the layout was intuitive, with an amazing amount of space and layout that was livable.  A private pool and sala framed the view across the rice terraces on the opposite side of the river and the only sound I could hear was the chattering of birds in a nearby tree.

Once alone, I explored the pavilion, and what a sense of wonder. The small touches reminded me where I was, of the food, fruit, and stories of this exotic place. An assortment of dried fragrant flowers in individual glass jars was bedside, with instructions to create my scent.

As the day wore on, a host came and asked what time I’d like to have my pavilion firepit lit and checked on dinner plans. As the moon rose, the embers of the fire played long into the twilight when the stars came out. I didn’t really want to move, but it was time to eat.

A short walk away into an outdoor covered pavilion, candles lit the way and in the dining area, was an open plan kitchen where staff easily moved in and out, and the aromas mingled with laughter. The food was farm-to-table fare, Balinese-inspired, and crafted in a simple yet refined way. There was no pretension and the service genuine.

Back to the pavilion, flashlight in hand, and a trip that has camp lights well placed along the way the sound of silence and the quiet noise of the forest collided and chatted. No, there was not an abundance of mosquitos and the environmentally-friendly natural air system worked well. While you had the option to have the blinds of the pavilion closed and a mosquito net up over the bed, I opted to keep them open and ponder the gentle wisdom of nature.

A great night’s sleep, a morning dive into the wooden bathtub while enjoying a Balinese coffee, and a hike down the hill to see the resort’s own private waterfall. Breakfast again was local, inspired adaptions that played tribute to farms and foods from the area. I did indeed take another nap and as I drifted off to sleep, secretly plotted how I could stay just a while longer.

My impression of Banyan Tree’s Escape is one of a hospitality brand seeking to reinvent and renew its vision of travel. To redefine what is important in 2022 and not carry the weight of the past. I absolutely loved the attention to detail, felt the passion of those who created it, and dreamed of returning one day soon.

Story also appeared in

Phuket’s hotel sector is seeing a renewed push in brand affiliations.

The latest is Patong’s Dinso Resort’s tie-up with IHG’s (InterContinental Hotels Group) Vignette Collection.

Dinso features 148-rooms and 28 themed pool villas.

Branding to Vignette will come into effect by mid-2023.

Makings news in Phuket is the signing by Minor Hotels of their first NH-branded property in Asia.

The 270-room Boat Lagoon Resort has been converted and is now operated by NH.

NH is part of Minor Hotels and has over 330 properties in Europe and the US.

Under Minor, the Anantara brand has been expanding in Greater Phuket with a new Avani+ in Khao Lak and Anantara in Koh Yao Yai Phang Nga.

The 12th edition of the Thailand Tourism Forum 2023, organized by C9 Hotelworks has opened registration. Set for 16 January 2023 at the Conrad Bangkok the event is the largest annual hospitality gathering in the country. With an impressive set of speakers and quality content, TTF is a  live, in-person (no virtual option), ‘must-attend’  industry gathering.

The event program is as follows –

Thailand Tourism Forum 2023 12th Annual Edition

Date: Monday, 16 January 2023

Venue: Conrad Hotel Bangkok

Organizer: C9 Hotelworks Hospitality Consulting Group

Host Event Partner: Hilton

Event Partners: Horwath HTL, STR, JLL Hotels and Hospitality, QUO, Delivering Asia Communications, AMCHAM Thailand, Creative Concept AV, Phuket Hotels Association


2023 Event Schedule and Program

 2:00 pm onwards: Registration Open

3:00 pm to 3:50 pm: Prequel – Hospitality Innovation Tech Pitch Competition

4:00 to 5:45 pm: Main Event – Thailand Tourism Forum 2023

Why Thailand Hospitality Must Innovate

Bill Barnett, Managing Director, C9 Hotelworks

Creating a New Hospitality Landscape with Brands

Wallapa Traisorat, Chief Executive Officer and President, Asset World Corporation

(Moderator) David Johnson, CEO, Delivering Asia Communications

Disruption and Change in Hotel Technology and Distribution

Liz Perkins, Vice President – Revenue Management and Commercial Services APAC, Hilton

(Moderator) Charles Blocker, CEO, IC Partners Limited

Thai Hospitality – Culture, Design, Legacy and Now Reinvention

Ho Ren Yung, Senior Vice President – Brand and Commercial, Banyan Tree Group

(Moderator) Sumi Soorian, Executive Director, Phuket Hotel Hotels Association

Ready, Set, Go (Wait) – How Competitive Are Thai Hotels?

Jesper Palmqvist, Senior Director – Asia Pacific, STR

Challenges and Changes in Being a Hotel Owner

Proudputh Liptapanlop, Executive Director, Proud Real Estate PLC

(Moderator) Nikhom Jensiriratanakorn, Director, Horwath HTL

Thailand Hotel Transaction Market Update and Financing

Chakkrit Chakrabandhu Na Ayudhya, Head of Thailand Investment Sales and EVP – Asia, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group

Brand Thailand Meets ESG, Hello Crunch Time

Catherine Monthienvichienchai, Chief Branding Officer, QUO Global

Changing Paradigms in Thai Tourism – A Look Ahead

Prab Thakral, President and Group CEO, Boutique Corporation PCL

(Moderator) TBC

What is the Hotel of the Future?

Eric Ricaurte, Founder and CEO, Greenview

Wrap Up – The Biggest Bang

5:45 pm onwards, networking drinks


Event Co-Hosts

Bonn Krongsak Paramacharoenroj, Country Manager, ONDA Thailand

Nida Wongphanlert, Managing Owner, 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts


To register for the event (space is limited and attendance is free) CLICK



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