According to C9 Hotelworks new Phuket Hotel Market Update 2023, the resort island’s tourism recovery has accelerated over the past six months. With the removal of Thailand’s pandemic travel restrictions in 2022, airlift quickly ramped up as India and Malaysia were key early source markets.
Over the current winter season aside from the return of the traditional ‘snowbird’ market from Northern Europe and Scandinavia, an influx of Eastern European travelers including those from Russia has spiked demand. Room rates have soared and average stay (ALOS) increased.
Looking ahead at the remainder of 2023, we are looking at a balanced recovery led by the Chinese market. For China, July and August along with National Day holidays in October look to play into a methodical build-up of traffic as airlift returns.
We expect a return to 2019 trading by the year-end of this year and the start of a new tourism cycle in 2024.
To read and download the full report CLICK
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 search for the next big resort destination in Thailand is an absolutely big ask. An expansive country with 77 provinces and an amazing array of diverse geographical locations, Instagram-worthy aspects, and distinctly different nuances. Out of this brazen travel chaos, the endearing term ‘same same, but different’ was born and remains highly relevant.
Yet, one of the simple truths of emerging destinations remains the adage “you can’t stay there if you can’t get there”. Potential is one thing but reality bites when getting to it is just too painful for words. Here in Thailand, one of my favorite places is Koh Samui. It marches to its own drum beat, and the vibe is undeniable. Still, access is never easy, the cost to get there is on the high side, and options for access are limited.
Scanning the Gulf of Thailand, other bohemian beach islands including Koh Chang, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan all are lovely but suffer a similar challenge, limited transportation access. The search for a modern-day Robinson Crusoe can’t be this hard? Or can it?
The search for azure blue seas stretches of long white sand, and coconut-lined beaches brings me to Khanom. For so many travelers the mention of the name draws a blank stare and the perfunctory ‘where’? Set on the Southeastern Coast of Thailand’s mainland between Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat. On a clear day, you can see Koh Samui and the famed five islands on the horizon.
Perhaps the cherry on top for Khanom, is that it offers the same stunning beaches as Koh Samui but being on the mainland is a far simpler proposition for a holiday or second home. Drive-to destinations in Thailand during the pandemic and after have been a boom for travelers, and are now an even stronger draw card for hotel and real estate developers. Look at the success of Khao Yai and Hua Hin where nature, space, and accessibility are key ingredients in the mix.
One of preferred demand generators when evaluating resort destinations is airlift. Simply put, the magic carpet effect. Khanom is easily accessible to Surat Thani International Airport and Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport where Thailand’s Department of Airports (DoA) has upgraded infrastructure to double capacity.
Stepping back and looking at property in the area, there is still access to larger land parcels. According to leading Thai property portal FazWaz, investment-grade real estate opportunities with reasonable land cost basis reflect pricing of early stage development.
Based on C9 Hotelworks’ ongoing analysis of Thailand’s resort residential markets, a defined shift back to end-users and urge in second or holiday-home buyers has pushed the sector to the beginning of a new cycle. This signals an uptick in growth but unlike more developed markets like Phuket, Hua Hin, or Koh Samui with prime land parcels soaring, Khanom offers an accessible beach destination with considerably lower underlying land costs. It has airlift, and a well-developed road network.
Taking a final look at Khanom, one of the key success factors in a resort location is DNA and aspect. The memorable views of the nearby outer islands in the Gulf of Thailand give a strong sense of place. Moreso, the nature in the area is amazing, highlighted by an abundance of pink dolphins. If you want wow, you got it. Coming out of the pandemic the pick-up in demand for lifestyle properties is going in a single direction and that’s up. If you haven’t been to Thailand’s Southeastern coast, there is no better time to visit than right now.
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
What is the Hotel of the Future?
Eric Ricaurte, Founder and CEO, Greenview
Wrap Up – The Biggest Bang
5:45 pm onwards, networking drinks
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
Keep People Inspired (KPI) is the second in a series of Mind the Gap Learning events. The focus of the event is on inclusiveness in hospitality, spanning Phuket’s hotels, tourism and service industries. Inclusiveness is a key element of businesses that rely heavily on human resources and is in effect all about people, whether they are the ones working or guests and customers.
KPI topics will include important issues such as gender equality, diversity, inclusion, and an increasingly critical focus on mental wellbeing at home and in the workplace. We will also cover personal development and how to upskill and move ahead with career goals including entrepreneurism.
This special three-hour learning session offers an amazing set of talented speakers and talks meant to show how to break down barriers, develop ideas and spur personal growth. It is also an opportunity to network, make new contacts and strengthen ties in the Phuket business community. The event welcomes everyone with an interest in hotels, tourism and hospitality, human resources, life learning and creating positive change.
Date Thursday, 10 November 2022
Venue Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach
Organizers Phuket Hotels Association, C9 Hotelworks and SAIJAI Homecare
Supporters Travel Daily Asia (TD), Delivering Asia Communications and Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa
Event Fee THB500 including networking coffee break, THB100 for students
1:00 pm onwards Event Registration
2:00 to 5:00 pm KPI – Keep People Inspired
Introduction – Bjorn Courage, President Phuket Hotels Association
From Unconscious Bias to Inclusive Leadership
Pranapda “Pam” Chirathivat, Founder Dragonfly360, President, President – Siam Music Yamaha and Director, Siam Motors Group
Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Matters, and What Comes Next
Max Simpson, Founder and CEO, Steps Community
Inspiring Women (and Men) in the Tourism Industry
Michaela Conner, Founder and Chairperson, TD’s Inspiring Women in Travel Asia
The Self-Development Toolkit
Klaus Feilkas, Managing Director, Reddot Consultancy
Networking Coffee Break
Building a Halal Business Community
Diane de Saint Chamaran, Co-Founder and COO, Wasabih – Halal Economy Professional Community
Mindfulness – Raising Resilient Kids
Neil Crossland, Principal – Secondary School – British International School Phuket
Becoming or Finding a Mentor
Poe Aye, Founder, Kickoff Marketing
First Hand, Changing Career Direction -Leading A Start- Up Company
Viona Zhang, Co-Founder & Managing Director, SAIJAI Homecare
Wrap Up and Closing Remarks
Sumi Soorian, Executive Director, Phuket Hotels Association
Viona Zhang, Co-Founder & Managing Director, SAIJAI Homecare
For more information and to register for the event CLICK
Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, nested in central Africa, adjacent to Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It’s best known to international luxury travelers as one of the three natural habitats of the endangered mountain gorilla species.
From our recent work on the ground in the country and market research, we are giving a snapshot of the country’s hotel and tourism sector in C9 Hotelworks Rwanda Tourism Market Review 2022 report. Without a doubt let’s lead off that this is one of Africa’s safest and cleanest countries and despite tragic events in the early 1990s, economic and social progress have created a strong springboard for success over the past two and a half decades.
From a hotel perspective, the market is still in the early stage of development with only four, five-star hotels in the country, flagged to Marriott, Radisson, Serena, and One and Only. Brand penetration is low, with 90% of accommodation being independent. There are 870 tourism establishments across the country with a total supply of just over 17,000 rooms and 57% being in the budget and economy tiers.
Kigali, the capital and gateway for the landlocked country has a vibrant business sector and a large-scale convention center which is becoming one of Africa’s leading MICE facilities. The city has a strong average room rate and occupancy trend. One key game changer in the market is the new Bugesera International Airport which is a partnership with Qatar Airways and is set to open in 2023. Rwanda is expected to become a regional aviation hub for passengers and cargo.
While tourism accounted for 19% of GDP in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the market is highly leveraged on Western bucket list travelers to the country’s three national parks. What C9’s analysis shows though is the gap in tourism attractions for both the growing domestic market and travelers from the border countries of DRC, Uganda, and Burundi which accounted for 75.1% of inbound travelers to the country during 2019.
Moving forward, Rwanda’s government has adopted Singapore as an Asian benchmark of how to attract global investors in a forward-looking vision of the country as a center of innovation and attraction as a trading partner. Infrastructure development is a high priority and public-private partnerships are promoted by the Rwanda Development Board as a fast track of progress.
C9 Hotelworks over the years has continued to provide development advisory and undertaken projects in developing markets in Africa. Some of these are highlighted in a series of reports that cover Zanzibar, Adventure Tourism, and Safari’s in Tanzania and more are set to come.
To download and read C9 Hotelworks’ full Rwanda Market Review 2022 report CLICK
As Phuket hotels emerge from the dark clouds of lockdowns and travel restrictions during the pandemic, there is still uncertainty over what may come in the waning months of 2022 and into next year.
Seasonality is a recurring challenge for many resort destinations around the world, and Phuket despite Thailand’s mass tourism surge in 2018 and into 2019, it continued to have its ups and downs. Coming into the cusp of high season, winter season airline schedules are seeing a sharp rise in international airlift and restoration of direct flights.
That said, the Russian market in 2019 which is marked by average lengths of stay between 9-12 days accounted for over 900,000 travelers to Phuket. This year, international sanctions on Russian airlines, the widespread drop of the Russian ruble, and political gyrations will likely see the winter snowbird market hit only 15-20% of this demand level.
Mind you, there will be Russians and they will be spending more and staying longer according to our talks with tour operators, but there will be far fewer of them. As for Mainland China, it looks as if this story is set to move into 2023 given its zero-COVID policy is unchanged.
For Phuket hotels, edging out of the pandemic and what is no doubt the start of a new business cycle, it’s important to see what can be learned from history. Combining STR and C9 Hotelworks data and analysis, the following charts show the demand or occupancy and average rate fluctuations within a given year and go on the show a ten-year pattern.
Speaking to the extreme swings between highs and lows of Phuket hotels over the past decade, STR’s Senior Director of Asia Pacific said “island occupancies have shown a fairly consistent pattern year-on-year, with some softening on the edges of shoulder season. Turning to a graph that shows annualized marketwide performance, it resembles a heart attack, with data showing that between June to January there is a 30% gap in islandwide demand.
Moving to room rates, historical data for the 10-year pre-pandemic period showed that average daily rates are 200% higher during peak periods, but that the lowest rates often occur for up to 6 months between May to October, regardless of occupancy.”
In other words, hotels continue a pack mentality and effectively double down on rates when the low season rolls around. It’s feast or famine for many hotels, and for some owners, they make up to 70% of their profits in high and peak periods. While the rest of the year, they try to eke out as much as they can in the lean times, often slashing labor costs through the use of contracted labor which is let go as demand drops.
What is apparent from the data is that the island’s highly leveraged mass tourism segments continue to be winter-centric. Wholesalers and/or tour operators that are specific to volume markets continue to have a massive influence on rates, and dynamic pricing falls over in the face of negotiated seasonal pricing. You can talk all you want about the future dominance of direct hotel bookings but the reality is on an island that is fast approaching 100,000 licensed hotel rooms according to C9 Hotelworks latest Phuket Hotel Market Review, volume markets continue to be in the driver’s seat.
So, what’s the answer to creating a more stabilized annual trading pattern? New markets such as the Middle East, especially Saudia Arabia where travelers embrace the rainy season will help. But, the fact is also that low periods will continue to exist and the best strategy is to lessen the rate differential between peak, high and low seasons, look at ways to generate more low season demand, and price up accordingly. There tends to be a trend that hotels simply look at their STR comp set and move rates in reaction to what competitors do.
For now, as Phuket moves into a new cycle, it is also an opportunity to change its approach to pricing and be bolder and more confident, given a likely return of airlift and yes, eventually China will return to the playing field.
Japan’s winter ski hotspot Niseko is set for a strong post-pandemic market rebound due to one simple thing – airlift. Timing is everything and the key touch point for airlines everywhere, moving out of a prolonged period of grounded commercial aircraft, has been to get them up and flying again onto high-demand routes.
In a right time, right place scenario, news of the 11 October 2022 lifting of restrictions of travelers to Japan and seasonal timing of airline winter schedules has created a potential windfall for Hokkaido’s international aviation gateway New Chitose Airport.
Singapore Airlines’ low-cost airline Scoot jumped the gun and was the first to announce a return of winter schedule flights commencing November. More recently Thai Airways will resume daily flights from the first of December this year. Last week Thai AirAsia X also made public plans to restart the Bangkok to New Chitose service in December.
The Thailand Hokkaido connection is driven by a strong Thai domestic ‘snowseeker’ market, and also Bangkok as an Asia hub for the broader international market transiting to Japan given favorable airfares. One key issue for Thais is whether a visa waiver will be put in place with the new reopening program, given a cost issue of approximately THB1500 and paperwork requirements. Japan has been slow to roll out extensive guidelines for the reopening which is creating some unrest for hotels and tour organizations in Japan.
Under a new mantra of ‘have plane, will travel’ the alpine destination of Niseko has seen winter bookings come at a blistering pace. Property developers in the destination are reporting a sharp uplift in inquiries given resort real estate is often an emotional buy, and potential purchasers want to get their boots on the ground, given the extended period they were unable to visit.
The newly released C9 Hotelworks market research report Niseko Tourism and Property Market Review gives the forward outlook that the combination of the favorable dollar-yen exchange rate and pent-up demand will see a return to high transaction levels from this winter through the rest of 2023.
A selection of properties creating a buzz at the moment range from the luxury ski-in and ski-out hotel and branded residence development Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono, Zeikki Properties Intuition, Hinode Hils at Niseko Village, HakuVillas and the Andaru Collection. One key destination trait of Niseko remains that majority of tourism accommodation is in luxury and upscale condominiums and vacation homes and not traditional big box hotels.
Despite its airlift and demand trajectory, one immediate challenge for hotels and rental accommodations is how to gear up staffing levels for the upcoming winter, given the market typically relies on a large influx of foreign seasonal workers. Expect a strain on service levels for this season but moving forward the critical mass of international brands and impressive new developments bodes well for Asia’s dream ski destination.