Below is a media release from the Phuket Hotels Association…
There has been a lot of confusion today resulting from the FB page message from a Minister (later removed) saying anybody coming from the designated high-risk countries below must self-quarantine. At this time, there is no indication at any Thai airport of any enforcement and all visitors have normal access to Thailand except those who shows symptoms or high temperature upon arrival.
Guests with bookings at Phuket hotels should be informed that there is no such rule and that nothing has changed and Thailand just asks people who were exposed to public spaces to be extra cautious and be aware of symptoms.
Special Announcement of COVID-19 on 3 March 2020
(Translated by the Office of International Cooperation, DDC Thailand)
The situation on 3 March 2020 at 8am…
1. There are currently 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) being treated in hospitals, 31 cases who returned to their homes and 1 death, which brings the total number of coronavirus infection cases detected in Thailand to 43.
2. From 3 January to 3 March 2020, the total number of patients under investigation (PUI) increased to 3,519 people. Of those, 95 PUI were detected from screening at all ports of entry and 3,394 people sought medical services on their own at hospitals. 2,099 cases returned to their homes and some of them are being continually monitored. Most of the PUI were infected with seasonal influenza, and 1,420 PUI are still admitted at hospitals.
3. Regarding the international situation involving 73 countries and two administrative regions between 5 January to 3 March 2020 at 7.00 A.M., there were 90,216 confirmed cases and 3,080 deaths, with 80,026 cases and 2,912 deaths coming from the People’s Republic of China.
The MOPH revealed that Thailand has the 15th most COVID-19 cases in the world and is preparing the protocol for receiving undocumented Thai workers from South Korea.Â The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) revealed that Thailand has the 15th most COVID-19 cases in the world. They are preparing the integrated joint plan for receiving undocumented Thai workers from South Korea with relevant partners.
Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, Director General of the Department of Medical Sciences stated about the COVID-19 situation today that 11 confirmed cases are still being treated in hospitals, 31 cases fully recovered and returned home, there has been one death, one severe case and the total number of confirmed cases is 43. Thailand has the 15th-highest number of cases in the world.
The cooperation from the public can slow down Thailand from entering a widespread epidemic. This disease can be prevented by eating cooked food, using serving spoons, washing hands, and wearing masks. The public should prepare to be responsible for themselves and society by self-protection and infection prevention.
If someone is at risk, they should reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other people. MoPH advises people to believe the information only from reliable channels and follow their recommendations. Fight COVID-19 together and join hands with each other. Do not put the blame on anyone else because COVID-19 involves all of us.
Regarding undocumented Thai workers in South Korea, the Ministry of Public Health of
Thailand is coordinating with relevant organizations such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Transport, Immigration Bureau and Security Department for joint planning efforts.
The integration among government sectors is required for tackling any situation arising out of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Ministry of Public Health will act to prevent the spread of COVID-19, carry out all duties, and will be ready to proceed with further instructions.
The Ministry of Public Health declared COVID-19 as a disease that must be controlled under Section 18 of the Pathogens and Animal Toxins Act, B.E. 2558. It was designated as a Group 3 disease that poses a high risk or high hazard. Any person who intends to produce, import, export, sell, transit or possess the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 must ask for permission in order to comply with the Pathogens and Animal Toxins Act, B.E.2558.
Regarding public concern about not implementing quarantine in travelers arriving in Thailand, MoPH would like to clarify as follows:
1. The people who shall be quarantined or observed for clinical symptoms in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act include:
– The group of PUI that develop suspected symptoms and have a travel history to outbreak areas.
This group shall be strictly quarantined at the hospital.
– The group that does not develop symptoms but is at risk for getting COVID-19, patients or suspected COVID-19 patients (high risk close contacts) are members of the family, working colleagues, classmates and passengers getting on the same vehicle with COVID-19 patients.
This group is recommended to strictly implement self quarantine at home for 14 days andÂ avoid traveling, avoid attending classes, avoid working and avoid sharing personal stuff with others. If anyone develops symptoms including fever, cough and sore throat, the health officer will enter them into the system of medical treatment and surveillance.
2. Unexposed groups including both Thai people and foreigners with travel history from affected areas, but who did not have exposure to patients and who are not exhibiting suspected symptoms are requested to reduce social activities, wear a mask when leaving their accommodations, wash hands frequently, not go to crowded areas, and observe your symptoms at home for 14 days. If you have a fever, cough, or sore throat, see a doctor immediately and report your travel history.
3. The general public and people in the same community as patients are asked to follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Public Health: eat cooked food, use serving spoons, wash hands, and wear a mask when visiting crowded places.
Recommendations to the Public
3.1 If anyone has symptoms including fever, sore throat, respiratory tract infection symptoms such as runny nose, cough, reproductive cough, tachypnea or dyspnea within 14 days after departing from a risk or affected area, they should wear a hygienic mask, wash their hands and seek medical care at a nearby hospital or meet the public health officers immediately, and inform the healthcare workers of their travel history to reduce the risk of complications from pneumonia progressing to severe or fatal outcomes.
3.2 A person with an underlying disease should avoid traveling outbound, where there is an ongoing outbreak. If this is unavoidable, people should avoid making contact with patients who have respiratory symptoms, avoid visiting markets selling live animals and avoid close contact with animals, especially with sick or dead animals.
3.3 For the general public, please take care of yourself during seasonal changes and comply with the recommendations “eat cooked food, use serving spoons, wash hands,” and wear masks while coughing, sneezing, and avoid contact with patients who have respiratory symptoms.
PHUKET: Without doubt, Phuket over the past few weeks has been a changed island. With far fewer tourists than usual this time of year, as of Monday (Feb 23) down more than 36% year on year, anyone lucky enough to be in Phuket has been enjoying beautiful clear skies, light traffic and uncrowded beaches.
The island in recent weeks has delivered everything the low season has to offer, without the downpours – which of all ironies is what Phuket needs right now.
The lack of tourists is certainly being felt by those whose incomes relied on Chinese arrivals, even only in part, but those who launched startup hotels and tour businesses with the sole intent of serving just one source market in the hope of making a windfall might be rethinking their core business strategy anytime about now.
Chinese tourists have always been the mainstay of Phuket’s tourism sector, but they were mostly out of the way, hidden on tour buses, in duty-free stores and staying at hotels catering just to them. Complaints about their overwhelming presence in nearly every corner of the island started rolling in only when the unsustainable blitz of Chinese arrivals began a handful of years ago and the spillover saw “first wave” tourists, here only for the cheap option as a holiday, entering new areas on the island.
That unsustainable growth has now experienced what economists call a “market correction”. But Chinese tourists will be back, and the experts say that the recovery will begin after April. They’re likely to be right. One way or the other, by that time people will get back on with their lives – to go on holidays where they can, health safety permitting. Phuket remains in that zone.
But the main factor keeping tourists away even before the virus crisis was the cost. The strength of the baht and the depreciation of currencies in major source markets was already being felt in the drop of international arrivals. The effect was so pronounced that the tourism stimulus measures being rolled out now were first drafted in October last year, before the Wuhan outbreak.
The virus has changed that factor, for now. Airlines are slashing prices just to fill seats and keep flight routes open. Room rates in Phuket are falling through the floor just to get a few more guests.
If the cost was the one thing keeping you away, right now there couldn’t be a better time to have a holiday in Phuket.
“Perhaps the biggest wild card is the mounting number of travel advisories across the globe based on Covid-19”
In what is a continuing storyline on the global coronavirus outbreak, Bill Barnett reports on the impact on Thailand’s most popular island destination, Phuket. He says that the impact on the Phuket tourism market is creating a challenging landscape.
“Looking at the largest single drop according to STR data, was the week of January 20 – 27 in the lead up to Chinese New Year, market-wide occupancy fell from 90% down to 60%.”
As of February 17, occupancy was sitting at the mid-50% level, though rate room rates have remained static during the past month. This week hotel numbers continue to shift downward as sentiment worsens due to travel advisories and a uncertainty over return travel are key issues.
Moving over to the aviation gateway of Phuket International Airport as of the February 25, month-to-date arrivals compared to the same period last year were down 37.5%. Looking at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, the comparative figure is a negative 45.2%. which ramps into the Phuket situation given it’s a feeder of business to the island.
Forward trading remains speculative, but there remains widespread postponement and/or cancellations of MICE events.
(The Thaiger was speaking to the owner of a big MICE company in Phuket last week who said that they started the year with a good portfolio of upcoming MICE events on the island but ALL had been cancelled)
While there is some movement to motivate the Thai domestic market by the TAT, all of Thailand’s markets are chasing that same tail. The upcoming Songkran period is likely to be dominated by staycations versus international trips abroad. Expectations are that that declining demand and airlift are key factors impacting occupancy and we are starting to see rate-driven promotions which will undoubtedly hit ADR’s (Average Daily Rate).
Perhaps the biggest wild card is the mounting number of travel advisories across the globe based on coronavirus (Covid-19), and for now, travel and tourism are working on day-to-day management of the situation. As the majority of hoteliers are looking for some historical context and the closest thing to grab onto is the SARS crisis in 2003. For Thailand the market hit a freefall over five months from March to July, as market-wide occupancy bottomed out just under the 30% level in May of that year.
Or course, what followed was the big bounce and pent up demand drove recovery in August. It continued with spectacular growth in the decades since.
In the case of the coronavirus, the only takeaway from the current situation is a bit like the Back to the Future gab… “where we’re headed, there aren’t any roads”.
(Almost, the actual quote from the movie is “where we’re heading, we don’t need roads”)
Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on February 27, 2020 by Bill Barnett
PHUKET: In an effort to address the slump in tourist numbers visiting the island, and the subsequent economic fall-out, Phuket has turned to social media for a helping hand.
The hashtag “Phuket OK” has been selected as the slogan as the island fights back against the effects of the China coronavirus COVID-19 and re-builds tourism confidence.
Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai told The Phuket News this morning (Feb 26) that a brainstorming session was conducted on Monday (Feb 24) with lecturers from Prince of Songkla University Phuket Campus and representatives from the business community.
The outcome was #PhuketOK will be utilised moving forward via social media to entice tourists back to the island
“I realise just how impactful COVID-19 has been to the tourism industry here in Phuket and how the numbers have dropped considerably,” Vice Governor Supoj said.
“The tourists we are seeing now are amongst the final ones to visit and we can clearly see the negative impact this low number is having on tour guides, buses, vans, spas, hotels, and restaurants,” he added.
“This has had a significant impact on workers associated with the tourism industry, with many staff being laid off or being forced to take salary cuts.
“Now is the time for us to rise up and fight for ourselves. I believe this hashtag can help and my hope is there will be an increase in the number of people using it for online reviews and social media posts.”
Mr Supoj explained that the hashtag has been used via social media before but he was unsure who had initially created it.
“We do know it was only used in a small group,” he said.
“But now we want this tagline to be used much more extensively on social media via platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, blogs and elsewhere.
“The hope is it can become viral and help our tourism industry recover,” Mr Supoj concluded.
BANGKOK: Hotels and tour operators are pivoting their sights towards domestic travellers by promoting events linked to the Thai holidays as international tourism dries up because of coronavirus fears.
Promotions have been prepared to stimulate spending on room bookings during the Songkran festivities.
Of the 1,150 exhibitors joining the 54th edition of the Thai Teaw Thai travel expo, the vast majority are hotel operators, said Krit Patarapal, managing director of PK Exhibition, the organiser of the expo.
“We tend to see more promotional campaigns aimed at domestic tourists, as hoteliers want to maintain healthy revenue while international markets, especially Chinese guests, are declining,” he said. “The four-day show will attract 200,000 local visitors.”
Both local and international hotel brands are relying on value-added strategies, such as awarding extra nights or offering a free night for extra guests.
To improve food and drink revenue, hotels are promoting dining packages such as paying a three-person price for a group of four.
Mr Krit forecasts sales volume at the expo, running March 5-8, to hit B200 million, a 10% drop from last year. About 10% of local and international hotel chains are concerned about market sentiment and decided not to join the show this time.
But sales may grow by up to 10% if operators can lure high-spending tourists to provinces. The last edition of Thai Teaw Thai at Bitec saw strong advances in the Chon Buri and Rayong markets, both in terms of numbers and spending.
Phuriwat Limthavornrat, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, said his group is working on tourism packages that include special deals from hotels, restaurants and car rental firms in order to boost the flow of local travellers for the upcoming school holidays.
The association plans to organise a special tourism fair for the northeastern provinces, persuading operators from seaside provinces in the eastern region to offer tourism products to northeastern tourists under the theme “Bringing Beaches to Isan”.
“Tour operators have to come up with new activities to serve the corporate segment, which benefits from the two-times tax deduction for spending on domestic seminars from Jan 1 until Dec 3,” Mr Phuriwat said. “Tourism products are now much cheaper than in the previous high season due to the lack of international tourists.”
Daniel Simon, general manager of Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, said the usual revenue contributions from guestrooms and food and drink are 60% and 40%, respectively.
To generate more revenue and fill the gaps caused by booking cancellations due to the coronavirus, Anantara has to offer special deals to local residents and travel industry partners.
The hotel also offers special room rates for employees of its group, Minor International, and is expanding catering services outside the hotel and joining the city’s high-end wedding fair to drum up local demand.
“We also have to implement value-added strategies to F&B units such as starting food delivery service, offering dining card programmes and voucher sales, as well as extending happy hour until later to gain more revenue from local and corporate meetings,” Mr Simon said.
Taking lead in the news today has the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus a global health emergency. For hotels and tourism the best metric to understand the impact of the virus on the island’s tourism market is airport arrivals.
Looking at data from Wednesday, January 29, international passenger arrivals at Phuket airport dropped 32.95% compared to the same date in 2019. For the previous day, Tuesday the 28th, the shortfall was 29.80%.
Viewing the month of January, overseas visitor arrivals on a daily basis were achieving positive growth. This changed on Sunday, January 26 which saw numbers retract. It’s important to note in far as trends go the January month-to-date remains positive with a 7.92% increase, which gives readers an indication that the months had been showing strong arrivals versus last year.
Taking a broader look at Bangkok’s numbers for Suvarnabhumi Airport on January 29, overseas arrivals declined by 14.92%. Don Mueang, which is more regional focused, stepped back a whopping 32.63%.
Statistically, the hardest hit Thai airport is Chiang Mai, which experienced 48.89% loss of international arrivals on Wednesday (year-on-year) and is indicative of the destination’s reliance on inbound Chinese.
Back to Phuket, it’s important to know the year-on-year comparison actually does not tell the full story. In 2019 Chinese New Year was in February so last year’s numbers when compared to 2020 are not apple to apple given the annual holiday turbocharger occurred in January this year. Hence the CNY impact in January in the data above, if we consider the absence of the holiday boost, is even more profound than the percentages shown here.
Currently there are 33 cities in Mainland China that have flights to Phuket.
Where does the hotel industry go from here? Phuket is not alone in its strong dependence on Mainland China, and what is likely is, once this situation turns the corner will be rate focused strategies which means bad news for hotel owners who were looking for higher-yield in 2020.
Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on January 31, 2020 by Bill Barnett
PHUKET: Robust passenger arrivals in the second half of 2019 highlighted by growth in Indian tourists helped rebalance the island’s tourism sector according to the C9 Hotelworks newly released Phuket Hotel Market Update.
The addition of direct flights from Mumbai, Dehli and Bengaluru propelled numbers by 298% versus the same period in the previous year, the report added.
In 2019, year-on-year passenger arrivals declined in Q1 (-4%) and Q2 (-7%) due to international economic volatility, China-US trade tensions, and a strong Thai baht. Long-haul travelers from Australia and European countries – led by Scandinavia, Germany, and Italy – shrank.
Moreover, Chinese arrivals moved into troubled territory with a negative year-on-year growth rate of -9%, said the report posted yesterday (Jan 6). (See here.)
However, passenger arrivals notably regained momentum in Q3 (3%) and Q4 (8%).
“The demand came from regional Asian feeders (led by India, Malaysia, and Singapore),” said the report.
“Overall for the year passenger arrivals in 2019 are forecasted to be similar to 2018, but punctuated by a H2 rising trend. In 2019, the total number of passenger arrivals at the Phuket International Airport is forecasted to be 9,109,487, with the December year-on-year monthly 2019 figure forecasted to be up by 8%.”
Citing recent media reports about Phuket’s hotels being half empty, C9’s Managing Director Bill Barnett stated, “Current 2019 data that reflects over 9 million passenger arrivals at Phuket International Airport, and hotel occupancy levels for the year in the low 70s is contrary to the media claims which are largely unsupported by a lack of metrics.
“While 2019 saw a slight drop in occupancy, and marked reduction in average rates and RevPAR, these are mainly attributed to an appreciating Thai baht and reaction to increased competition in leisure destinations. The latter part of 2019 trending showed higher demand which is encouraging but seasonable challenges remain a key challenge.”
Looking at key hotel performance trends, the second half growth spurt in demand drove full-year market-wide occupancy to 72% according to data from STR, which is 3% lower versus the 2018.
“Rate pressure remains intense and a challenge to RevPAR; with Thai currency appreciation set to continue in 2020,” said the report.
Two key metrics that were impacted was a drop in island average rates by 6%, and the knock on impact to RevPAR that also stepped back by 10%, largely driven by lower room rates, it added.
In terms of “Trends”, the report noted:
• In 2019, the total number of passenger arrivals at the Phuket International Airport is forecasted to be 9,109,487, with the December y-o-y monthly 2019 figure forecasted to be up by 8%.
• Top 5 locations for Phuket hotel pipeline developments are Patong, Bangtao, Kamala, Nai Harn and Kathu.
• Newly opened Porto De Phuket, together with the Central Floresta and upcoming Andamanda
are all helping to position Phuket as a lifestyle, entertainment and shopping destination.
The “Forward Outlook” section of the report also suggested:
• The Phuket Light Rail System’s construction is expected to commence in Q12022 with an increased budget of THB39 billion, while the Patong-Kathu Tunnel is waiting for EIA approval.
• Phuket Sky Way, a planned tourism-oriented cable car attraction is currently under environment impact evaluation.
• In 2020, 5,009 new keys from 21 properties will enter the island hotel supply, which is a 6%
increase. The majority of future pipeline developments are in upscale and midscale tiers.
BANGKOK: Thailand has broken its annual tourism record with the arrival of 39 million international tourists this year, up from about 38mn last year. The 39 millionth tourist was from Russia.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said that the Kingdom remains one of the all-time favourite destinations of global travellers.
In the closing days of 2019, 140,000 tourists are expected to arrive every day, which means that Thailand is expecting to welcome a total of 39.6mn to 39.8mn tourists by year-end.
Anna Pavlovskaya, who was travelling to Thailand with her family for the third time, said that besides tourist destinations, Thai people and their hospitality were big reasons for her return to Thailand after her first visit 21 years ago to Koh Samui in Surat Thani province.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the number of foreign arrivals during January to November this year stood at 35.87mn – an increase of 4.44% year-on-year – and generated B1.74trn in income, up by 3.67% from the year before.
This year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is expecting Thai tourism to achieve a growth rate of 4% in both volume and value to 39.7mn foreign tourists which will generate B1.96trn in income for the country.
The agency forecasts the number of tourists will reach 40.8mn in 2020, an increase of 2.5%, which will contribute B2.02trn to the economy, up 3% year-on-year.
For the Russian market, one of the most important for Thai tourism, the TAT is hoping to attract more tourists by reaching new cities such as Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Yekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk via charter flights by next year, said Srisuda Wanapinyosak, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on December 29, 2019 by Bangkok Post
The committee of economy development, bringing together both government and private sectors, has agreed to allow a cable car project on Phuket as the island’s new landmark. It has been revealed that the cable car design is finished and the Environmental Impact Assessment will be commissioned soon. At the moment the working title for the project is The Phuket Sky Way.
The committee chaired by Phuket Vice Governor Wongsakorn Wongchukhan says that the cable car will be able to be constructed and operated as a new attraction in Phuket but it will “need to be legal in every respect”.
JH Thailand Cable Car, the owners of the project, proposed the attraction to the committee to get government support.
JH Thailand Cable Car announced to the meeting that the cable car design is done and they will do the EIA soon. The group hasn’t unveiled the location of the new attraction but they guaranteed that the view will be spectacular along the way. (The artists impressions provide a few clues).
The committee said that they support the project and can see that a cable car attraction will be another project to evolve tourism and the economy in Phuket.
“Phuket needs to have a man-made attraction to attract more tourist apart from the natural attractions such as beaches and islands.”
They explained that the neighbouring countries also have cable car rides in some key tourist areas and they don’t think the project will affect the environment.
In Phu Quoc, a Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand, the investment into a spectacular cable car (the longest in the world) kick started the almost unknown island’s tourism industry. Read about the highly successful Phu Quoc Cable Car HERE.
But the committee is stressing that the investor must follow strict guidelines “and listen to departments involved as well as people on the island”.
The President of JH Thailand Cable Car, Achawin Seetabut, said after the meeting that the reason he decided to invest in Phuket is because Phuket is a “famous and charming island city”. From his travel experience, he saw cable car projects in many countries which are popular among tourists and the market keeps growing, such as in Hong Kong, but Thailand still doesn’t have a cable car.
“We are sure that cable car will be popular among tourists with the beautiful view of Phuket. The cable car will become the new landmark of Phuket too.”
He said that after seeing that the committee agreed on the project, the company will continue with its EIA and public hearings. The location and route have been planned but there are still some processes to finalise the location. He also revealed that the highest point of this cable car should be about 82 metres and that it is a total of 3 kilometres long. Along the 3 kilometre route, people will be able to observe views across the island. There will be three stations along the way.
“The car and management is taken care by a French company, who are expert in cable cars to guarantee 100% safety.”
BANGKOK: Tourist arrivals in Thailand rose 5.92% in November from a year earlier, after increasing 12.51% in the previous month, the Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 25).
The ministry said foreign visitors accounted for 3.35 million last month, a rise of 5.92% from the 3.1mn recorded during the same period of last year.
Visitors from China, Thailand’s biggest source of tourists, jumped 18.33% in November year-on-year, after October’s 27.81% surge, due partly to last year’s comparatively low figures. Tourists from other Asean members came second at 9.5mn, up from 9mn, a 4.7% rise year-on-year.
A total of 3.36mn tourists in November spent B167 billion, up 2.98% from a year earlier.
In the January-November period, overall tourist arrivals totalled 35.87mn, up 4.44% from a year earlier.
Foreign tourist receipts make up about 12% of Thailand’s gross domestic product.