Thursday, April 29, 2010

Scores of Thai hotels reel from plunge in guests

HOSPITALITY SECTOR

Published on April 30, 2010

About 300 hotels who are members of the Thai Hotels Association (THA) have shut their doors or cut down the number of available rooms and services to cope with the steep decline in guests.

The number of affected hotels account for 30 per cent of THA's 1,000 members. The number represented hotels that have reduced their services by 30 per cent or more. THA is estimating the total damage before seeking government help, said Supawan Tanomkieatipume, chairman of marketing.

Since April 27, Novotel at Siam Square has closed its operations, without announcing a timeline for resumption of service. Since yesterday, Twin Towers Hotel has offered for occupancy only 240 rooms of 640. It plans to resume full service on May 3. Banyan Tree and other big and small hotels located in outer Rajprasong area such as Sathorn, Phya Thai as well as Sukhumvit are reportedly shutting down partial operation.

Earlier, hotels in the Rajprasong area like Grand Hyatt Erawan, InterContinental Bangkok, Holiday Inn Bangkok, Four Seasons and Renaissance closed operations while Dusit Thani closed three restaurants. On April 28, Thailand Convention and Exhibition issued an advisory to business travellers, telling everyone to avoid Rajprasong and Sala Daeng.

Supawan said that at least 300 temporary staff working in hotels in the Rajprasong area are already out of job.

"If the political situation spreads to other parts in the next three months, we would see more people walk out of business," she said.

The average occupancy rate at hotels in Bangkok is 35 per cent, lower than the 65 per cent at the same time last year.

As analysts prepare to revise downward the earnings forecast of Minor International, which owns Four Seasons Bangkok in the Rajprasong area, the company's CEO, William Heinecke, insisted that Minor was mostly unaffected by the antigovernment protests.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, he said "Ninetyfive per cent of Bangkok remains unaffected" and Minor's operations in the rest of the capital have offset losses from businesses closest to the protest site. He insisted that the company's earnings will meet or exceed analysts' expectations in the first quarter. The company owns 30 hotels in 14 countries.

THA said that hotels in other areas like in Sukhumvit, Rama IX and near Suvarnabhumi Airport are enjoying higher occupancy rate, as many guests were transferred from affected hotels.

"More than 40 countries have issued warnings to their citizens about visiting Thailand. And travel agents overseas are currently not offering Thailand on their menu," she added.

Supawan said some incentive groups have also cancelled trips to Phuket, while tourism and hotel businesses in Pattaya, Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai are also facing a tough situation as in Bangkok.

The number of visitors at Thai Theater Alangkarn has dropped from 8001,000 per day to 200300 per day. The operator is considering reducing the showtime from six times a week to four.

The Professional Tourist Guide Association will today call a meeting on how to assist unemployed tour guides, as thousands of them are expected to be unemployed.

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