Thai tourism elites show unity

Thailand Tourism Forum in Bangkok hears of strategies to navigate hospitality industry out of ’cataclysmic‘ Covid crisis. Analysts tell of 2022 revival prospect

MORE than 400 of Thailand’s tourism leaders and industry experts gathered at a conference in Bangkok to express unity in overcoming the Covid crisis while embarking on strategies to revive the kingdom’s visitor economy.

Thailand Tourism Forum (TTF), which opened at Conrad Hotel Bangkok on Monday, was organised by C9 Hotelworks hospitality consulting group and hash-tagged with the theme of #ThaiTourismUnited.

From left: Bill Barnett; Marisa Sukosol, president, Thai Hotels Association; Stephan Vanden Auweele, Asset World Corp; Dirk De Cuyper, CEO, S Hotels & Resorts; Thirayuth Chirathivat, CEO, Centara Hotels & Resorts; Salanroj Sutaschuto, TCEB, and Bill Heinecke, CEO, Minor International

Despite the challenges faced by hoteliers and tourism providers in Thailand from the Covid downturn, registrations for TTF 2021 were full in three hours for the in-person event, a spokesman for the forum said.

A “Thai Hotel Leaders’ Roundtable” discussion which saw the CEOs of Thailand’s biggest hotel groups discuss ways to revive the country’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

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Speakers included Thirayuth Chirathivat, CEO of Centara Hotels & Resorts; Stephan Vanden Auweele, chief hospitality group officer of Asset World Corporation; Bill Heinecke, CEO of Minor International; Dirk De Cuyper, CEO of S Hotels & Resorts; Marisa Sukosol, president of the Thai Hotels Association; and Salanroj Sutaschuto, director of the Central and Eastern Regional Office of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.

Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, delivered an opening address entitled “Lost in Thailand, The Ultimate Survival Story.”

Jesper Palmqvist, STR’s area director for Asia Pacific, revealed the latest hotel performance data and analysis for Thailand and prospects of a bounceback in 2022.

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“After a particularly challenging January 2021, Thailand’s hotels at least end the first quarter with similar patterns as seen by the end of 2020,” Palmqvist said.

“There are early signs of reservations in June but also some for November-December. In light of Thailand’s dependency on international arrivals… the STR forecast for Bangkok has been downgraded for the full year of 2021. We do foresee 2022 as a bigger comeback year on many fronts across the country.”

Barnett said: “Covid-19 has impacted almost every country on Earth, and while Thailand has enjoyed considerable success in controlling the spread of infections, the pandemic’s impact on tourism has been cataclysmic.

“International visitors previously accounted for more than 70 per cent of tourism spending in Thailand, so this year’s border closures have left a huge hole in the economy. But the recovery starts here. TTF 2021 is a unique opportunity for the kingdom’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry to unite, unify and usher in a bright future.”

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