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The wait is over for Thailand’s battered hotel and tourism sectors, with an announcement by the government that the cumbersome Thailand Pass process will be removed by 1st July.

Travelers to the Kingdom will no longer be subjected to the online application and approval process.

Another restriction for tourists is the Covid-19 USD10,000 insurance requirement, which will also be lifted.

For overseas arrivals, all that is needed is a vaccination certificate or Covid-19 testing result and no certificate of entry will be mandated.

In another separate issue, the current requirement of wearing a mask outdoors and in open spaces is expected to also be lifted at the beginning of July, subject to a Royal Gazette notification.

Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts have brought an impressive new storytelling platform online, which is named Compass.

Featuring interviews, podcasts and discussions, noted Ted-X speaker Mukul Bhatia will host.

Sustainability and change-making are key themes with the first four podcasts featuring global guests on topics ranging from the environment, culture, and localized economies.

Heady ideas here and intriguing content for those in hospitality.

Check it out now on the following link CLICK

 

The Phuket Hotel Association’s annual travel sale is now online. With stunning offers to great destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Niseko, Bali, Ho Chi Min City, Hanoi, Bohol, Siem Reap, Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya, and many more.

Proceeds from the sale go to the non-profit Phuket Hotels Association education scholarship fund that supports Thai hospitality students.

Over the new four weeks, an amazing number of new destinations and offers will be added on a regular basis so check back to the site often for new deals.  Don’t miss out. You can either bid or buy now at substantial discounts.

Supporting Thai hospitality education remains a key pillar of the association and now you have a chance to play it forward and at the same time get a fabulous travel deal.

To visit the online sale website CLICK

 

The continued economic impact of the pandemic has hit Phuket hotels as 73% of new projects put on hold according to new C9 Hotelworks market research.

Hoteliers in Phuket have been quick to address damage control from the Ukraine Russia crisis, but most of the Russian market falls away in March historically. Three notable source markets that are ramping up airlift to Phuket are Australia, India and the Middle East, and these remain bright spots, though none have demonstrated traffic to match the mass Chinese market.

Phuket led all of Southeast Asia in a remarkable effort of widespread vaccinations and the pioneering Sandbox re-entry program. But a look at the current situation which has seen a return to seasonal trading and departure of winter snowbird travelers dissipate, now has the island looking for replacement markets. As other regional neighbors such as Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines roll out quarantine free travel, Thailand remains in an uncompetitive situation given its beleaguered Test & Go process.

Another change in attitude for island hotel owners has been a wave of conversions of independent properties to brands given that many of the highest performing properties during the Phuket Sandbox reopening and growth in domestic travelers was to branded hotels. While another outcome has also seen a number of internationally managed properties converted from management to franchises.  This reality of owners operating under global brands and a new influx of white label management has been a trend that was coming anyway and has only been accelerated by the pandemic.

The elephant in the room for the moment is China.  The conundrum is that while we fully expect Phuket stabilized numbers to return given its favorable geographic location, tourism-oriented infrastructure and demonstrated airlift capacity but macro political and economic issues are clouding the short-term horizon.

To download and read the entire Phuket Hotel Market Update 2022 CLICK

 

 

Major Phuket retail malls which have over 500,000 square meters in leased area space according to research by C9 Hotelworks are reporting a pick-up in customer demand. The increases are a combination of higher seasonal long-term stays by part-time residents, a spur upwards in domestic travelers which are Thais who are attracted to malls, and overall flow of visitors to the island as quarantine measures lessen.

Making business news has been the island’s second-largest mall Jungeylon in Patong with 200,000 square meters of space. They have embarked on a two-phase plan that will see interior spaces upgraded and reopened by the end of this year, and exterior facelift within next year.  One key feature of the new Jungceylon will be a digital amusement attraction.

 

This comes at a time when Phuket is bracing for the opening soon of the largest amusement attraction Andamanda. This massive best-in-class park is being developed by Thailand’s Proud Real Estate Group which also owns and operates Vana Nava Waterpark in Hua Hin.

Phuket hotels are increasingly looking to the sky for answers, as the high season is set to come to an abrupt end after the Thai New Year Songkran holiday which is winding down. With two of the largest significant overseas markets – China and Russia now riding the bench, the search is on for replacement travelers.

One country that has strong fundamentals is India. In 2019 close to 2 million Indian visitors came to Thailand. In more recent times, in the Maldives at the end of Q1, India ranked third to the island destination which demonstrates a strong appetite for beach resort locations.

As we often say, airlift is everything and over the past few months, there has been an increasing trend of flights. After just over a one-year absence, leading Indian carrier IndiGo flights from Phuket to Mumbai and Delhi return.  As for Bangkok, other cities will include Chennai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.

Additionally, Thai Smile has commenced flights from Mumbai that stop both in Phuket and Bangkok. Feeder direct flights are also being restored from the flagship carrier Thai Airways International from Bangkok to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Bengaluru. The gateway flights to Bangkok in the past have been popular for travelers onto Phuket, which now will be serviced by connections with Thai Smile.

GoAir has also been servicing the routes between the island to Mumbai and Delhi and has been a consistent carrier for Indian travelers for much of the pandemic.

One of the most significant attractions for the Indian market is destination weddings in Thailand. Typically,  these events can see hotel bookings of 200-250 rooms or more and are multi-day events. Talking to leading organizer Shloka Events, there is much pent-up demand and weddings are returning, though group sizes are off 20-25%. Phuket is a favored location but also Khao Lak, especially at the JW Marriott which has expanded both the hotel and event facilities to cater to larger groups.

Looking forward to some of the lowest periods for Phuket hotels traditionally in May to mid-June and then September, there is every reason the island has to aggressively work to markets where airlift is, given you can’t stay there if you can’t get there.

Pre-pandemic, Thailand’s cruise industry was on a growth trajectory.

Looking at Phuket, in 2018 the Treasury Department awarded a 30-year lease concession for the redevelopment of the Deep Sea Port in Ao Makham. Part of the plan was a new cruise terminal and expanded facilities for international cruise passengers.

Historically the existing facility catered to a reported 200,000 to 300,000 passengers a year and talks were being held with Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises on catering to more arrivals.

The concession to Phuket Deep Sea Port Company included a new master plan, CLICK to view details. To date, the project timeline is delayed.

Making news last week, was a Thai government plan to develop a cruise ship facility in the southern end of Koh Samui at Laem Hin Khom, under a private-public partnership.

This all comes as Asia’s cruise industry is in a state of disarray, with Genting Hong Kong becoming insolvent and now embroiled in legal cases across the globe. Caught up in the financial crisis is Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises, and Star Cruises, with the latter being a familiar face in Phuket.

Singapore is the most active cruise port in Asia and longer-term the sector is expected to see consolidation from other groups who want to have a presence in Asia, but in the short to medium term, Thailand’s cruise ambitions might be better off looking at long term versus short term recovery and growth.

 

 

 

 

 

Banyan Tree’s flagship hotel in Phuket has launched a new 23-villa hybrid wellness offering under their new Veya brand.

Located within the existing Banyan Tree Laguna Phuket property, the offering is focused on connecting the mind and body and is very program-oriented. Healthy eating is another key pillar of the new brand.

We are seeing a number of larger resort properties in Asia now looking at complexing hospitality components in order to create a viable economic model in the wake of the pandemic and expected changes in traveler behavior.

Size matters is a new mantra for ‘right sizing’ many largish legacy hotels that cannot fill empty beds and counter the shift in guest behavior towards using outside restaurants, bars, and attractions.

On the wellness front in Thailand, on a broad scale aside from Chiva-Som and Kamalaya, there have been limited  ‘best in class’ new offerings in the past decade.

This is all set to change as we can see tri gaining a strong market in Greater Bangkok and Phuket’s new integrative wellness community Tri Vanada is developing its footprint.

As for hybrid spaces, we believe this trend to lead many hotel redevelopments or repositioning strategies going forward. For more on hybrid spaces, check out a recent video presentation by QUO from the Thailand Tourism Forum 2022.

In case you missed the Thailand Tourism Forum 2022 at the Conrad Bangkok, the ‘in person’ event drew over 500 under the theme #ThaiTourismUnited.

Here are video links to replay the individual session’s from our amazing speakers and we look forward to returning with an even bigger event in 2024 for the 12th annual event:

Event Highlight Reel

Thailand Hotel Performance – Update and Outlook

What Tourism Can Learn From Die Hard

Why Hotel Operators Must Change

Got Numbers, Now What?

Thailand’s Hotel Transactions, How to Make a Deal Work

Wellness Journey

Next Generation of Hotel Owners Speak Out

Hybrid Spaces, Jumping Out of the Box

Crypto for Hotels and Tourism

Green Community Tourism

Behind the Mask, A Totally New Travel Experience

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