With Thailand welcoming back international tourists under the long-stay STV programme, many luxury hotels have decided now is the time to open their doors and cash in on the high-spending new arrivals. Offering 5-star quarantine, superior comfort and long-stay options, the range of new and reopened upmarket properties are expected to be a major first step in getting Thai tourism back on its feet.
Bangkok, in particular, has seen at least six major new openings in the luxury hotel sector in recent weeks, from brands such as Four Seasons, Kempinski, Rosewood and Capella. The latter property opened on 1st October, becoming the latest in a range of luxury hotels to have opened since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Just next door, a new Four Seasons is expected to open by the end of the year, along with the Siam Kempinski Sindhorn.
The timing of the new openings coincides with Thailand’s first round of STV arrivals, which touched down in Bangkok earlier this month. The terms of the STV, which include mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival and are valid for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of 9 months, are geared towards long-stay visitors with big travel budgets. This group is particularly interested in luxury accommodation, which has been cleared by the government for use as official quarantine facilities.
“These groups of travellers have the highest potential of increasing money spent on lodging and dining, which can help boost the economy, especially during these difficult pandemic times,” says Yuthasak Supasorn, who is head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). “We have about 800 to 1,000 Chinese tourists who are ready to travel here on private jets in the first phase of reopening,” he added.
Thailand expects to welcome around 1,200 each month during the first phase of the STV programme, which will generate an estimated THB 1.2 billion (US$38 million) in revenue for the tourism industry. Focusing on high-end tourism could provide a welcome injection of capital for the industry, and is also being floated as a possible remodelling for the long-term. “It’s a good starting initiative to focus on quality instead of quantity,” explains Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist at Bank of Ayudhya Pcl.
With high-end travellers returning and new hotels opening to welcome the first phase of STV arrivals, it is hoped that lower budget demographics will also soon follow. Most importantly, Thai tourism is back up and running before the end of the year.