BANGKOK, July 13 (Xinhua) -- More than 15 four- or five-star hotels in Thai resort cities may have Chinese investors as new owners in the near future when the Thai tourism has been sliding amid the ongoing global economic crisis and A/H1N1 flu epidemic, said Industry Minister Charnchai Chairungruang on Monday.
Bangkok Post online quoted the minister as saying that Chinese investors are preparing to buy 15 to 16 four- or five-star hotels in Thailand for 1,200-1,500 million baht (35-44 million U.S. dollars)each, when the economic crisis and A/H1N1 flu have caused a sharp drop in the hotels' revenue. The owners of those hotels have faced liquidity problems.
These investors believed that Thai tourism-related business would recover in two or three years, said Charnchai.
The Board of Investment has been assigned to negotiate with the Chinese investors, who will enjoy investment privileges, he said.
According to Charnchai, most of the hotels in financial trouble are in tourist cities, such as Pattaya, Bangkok and Khon Kaen.
The number of international tourists to Thailand plunged more than 50 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2009, with the forward hotel bookings also sluggish, Thai tourism associations said on May 11.
Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa on Thursday make known his plan of going and meeting his Chinese counterpart next month to discuss tourism promotion between the two countries, after he said the flu pandemic is expected to continue for months and will add to the burdens of the country's tourism sector, which has been suffering from the global financial meltdown.
The tourism sector, generating about 540 billion baht (15.6 billion U.S. dollars) for Thailand last year, holds more than 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 7 percent of workforce of the kingdom.