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Air Asia diversifies from an airline brand to e-commerce powerhouse

10/10/2020

Airasia.com has revealed its greatly extended new online brand identity online as “ASEAN’s super app”, completing what it calls a “transformation from digital airline to comprehensive lifestyle platform”.

The airasia.com ASEAN super app combines a host of related online experiences in a “faster and more convenient user experience” with over 15 types of products and services under 3 main headings – travel, e-commerce and fintech (financial technology).

On the announcement of the new App’s launch, airasia.com is having its first-ever airasia.com Super Sale that supersedes the past successful AirAsia free seat promotions.

“The biggest sales in the region will take place from October 12 (1000, GMT +8) to October 18, 2020 with storewide discounts of up to 90% across all product offerings on airasia.com super app and the airasia.com site.”

AirAsia Group CEO and founder Tony Fernandes says the airline group has not wasted the crisis.

“Now with airasia.com, we are enabling everyone to fly, to stay, to shop, to eat, all at the convenience of one super app. We’ve been using the lockdown period to fine tune our platform, unify the user experience and simplify our payment to a one-click checkout.”

Some of the deals under the new super app include a 90% off SNAP flight+hotel combo, 90% off on AirAsia shop; 50% off on AirAsia food and “AirAsia fresh”, formerly known as OURSHOP. 50% off all Malaysian domestic flights and 10% off flights of any other partner airlines to over 3,000 destinations worldwide.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 10, 2020 by ttrweekly.com

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Thailand among Top 20 Best Countries in the World in Condé Nast readers’ choice awards

09/10/2020

BANGKOK: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revelled in the announcement that Thailand has ranked among the Top 20 Countries in the World by readers of Condé Nast Traveller in the 33rd Readers’ Choice Awards 2020.

Thailand received a score of 92.62, thus placing it in 7th place. Meanwhile, Chiang Mai was placed 2nd on the Top 10 Best Small Cities, and Koh Pha-ngan was rated 3rd on the Top 5 Best Islands in Asia, said a release by the TAT today (Oct 9).

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said, “We are always proud to see Thailand on this list, but in this challenging year when the COVID-19 restrictions are affecting international travel, it is indeed a very special honour.

“We would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the readers of Condé Nast Traveller as well as travellers from across the globe for their confidence in Thailand. When all difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic have improved, Thailand will certainly be more than ready to welcome international tourists once again.”

According to Condé Nast Traveller, the Readers’ Choice Awards 2020 represent the first time that voters made their picks when almost no one was traveling. It said the names in this year’s edition were the ones that brought voters comfort, that they still connected with long afterward and got them through the months without travel, noted the TAT release.

“These are the enduring gems that can withstand the test of time and the vicissitudes of circumstances. So while it is always an honour to be on this list, in this strangest of years, it is a special honour, indeed,” the magazine said, adding that “Many readers have told us that when we emerge from this pandemic, they want to turn their attention to the classics, whether that means personal favourites or places they know have brought joy to others.”

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 9, 2020

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Phuket Airport to see surge in domestic passengers during Vegetarian Festival

09/10/2020

The director of Phuket Airport says at least 15,000 domestic passengers per day are expected during the upcoming Vegetarian Festival. Thani Chuangchu says the event, which runs from October 16 to 25, will see an increase in domestic traffic at the airport, which normally receives around 13,000 domestic travellers per day during holidays and long weekends.

During the week, Phuket airport normally deals with up to 70 domestic flights a day. At weekends and during long holidays, this increases to around 80 flights a day. However, Thani says that during the Vegetarian Festival, the airport is expecting to handle around 90 domestic flights a day.

The Vegetarian Festival is expected to generate around 200 million baht for Phuket’s shattered economy. The province has been devastated by the fall-out from Covid-19, with countless businesses shuttered, some for good, and tourist hotspots, such as Patong and Karon, now resembling ghost towns. Thani says there has been a 60,000 reduction in the number of flights arriving and departing Phuket airport since the start of the pandemic. Compared to the same period last year, this equates to a 48% reduction.

The island is shortly expected to welcome its first group of foreign tourists under the new Special Tourist Visa scheme, when 120 Chinese visitors arrive later this month. Thani says the airport is fully equipped to meet health screening requirements, with mobile testing units, lab facilities, and medical staff all in compliance with both the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

“Phuket airport is 100% ready to welcome local and foreign passengers.”

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 9, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Phuket to host Travel Blog Exchange 2021

08/10/2020

PHUKET: Phuket has been selected to be the host destination for the world’s top blogger event Travel Blog Exchange 2021 (TBEX Asia 2021), from Oct 20-22 next year.

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew together with Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) President Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations Executive Director Nithee Seeprae presided over the press announcement today (Oct 8) held at the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery.

Also present were Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana, Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, Thailand Hotels Association Southern chapter President Kongsak Khongphongsakorn, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana, among others.

“Phuket has all the infrastructure to accommodate tourists flying directly from overseas. There are world-class hotels and medical service providers in the province. We are more than confident that we can be a good host for all tourists and events,” said Governor Narong.

Phuket is going ahead with all preparations for ‘New Normal’ tourism noted a release by the TAT, with business operators making the necessary changes to comply with the requirements laid down by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Public Health.

A multi screening process is conducted at checkpoints in collaboration with the provincial public health officials, while safety and security measures for water, air and land transport have been heightened to assure everyone that Phuket is a safe destination, said the release.

“We are going to show the world that Thailand is ready to come back, after COVID-19 has passed, to host international events and Phuket is ready to serve as a festival city,” Mr Chiruit said.

The TBEX Asia 2021 will underline arts, cultural diversity, event venues, food, and ways of life of people not only in Phuket, but also throughout the whole Southern Thailand region.

“The TBEX Asia 2021 participants will discover the charm and diversity of Phuket that can’t be found anywhere else. Since this big event will be held during challenging times, the honour of hosting this event is really an encouraging sign of confidence and potential of Thailand,” Mr Nithee said.

To boost the confidence of media and international bloggers coming to the TBEX Asia 2021 in Thailand, the TCEB, TAT and Phuket provincial government has organised a ‘Media and Blogger Inspection Trip’ to Phuket on Oct 6-8. The three-day programme highlights Phuket’s wide variety of attractions and activities, ranging from beautiful sea and beaches, delicious local food, street art, adventure and charming communities.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 8, 2020

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The Nai Harn Phuket rated No. 2 in Thailand in Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Award

07/10/2020

PHUKET: Condé Nast Traveler has announced the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards with The Nai Harn Phuket recognised as the #2 Resort in Thailand.

In the popular survey, more than 715,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers submitted responses rating their travel experiences across the globe.

“The results of this year’s survey, conducted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are a testament to the lasting power of a meaningful travel experience,” said Jesse Ashlock, US Editor of Condé Nast Traveler. “The winners represent the best of the best for our audience and offer plenty of trip-planning inspiration for all the adventures we can’t wait to have next.”

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. The full list of winners can be found here.

“We are absolutely delighted,” said The Nai Harn General Manager Frank Grassmann. “It is always a great honour being on the list of the Top 20 Resorts in Thailand and to rub shoulders with the finest in the industry as we seek to set new levels of luxurious and unique experiences in Phuket.

“To be voted 2nd best resort in Thailand this year by the very cosmopolitan and travel experienced readership of Condé Nast Traveler is the accomplishment of great efforts from our entire team, and another step to promoting our iconic resort as a preferred destination in the beautiful south of Phuket.”

“Due to ongoing travel restrictions, we are currently focusing on welcoming our fellow Thailand Residents who can discover the property with exclusive promotions,” he added.

The 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards are published on Condé Nast Traveler’s website at www.cntraveler.com/rca and celebrated in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler US and UK print editions.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 7, 2020

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Four airports to open for medical tourists

05/10/2020

BANGKOK: The Medical Hub Board is to propose that the government allow direct international flights to quarantine spa and resort locations in facilitation of medical tourists, adding to Special Tourist VISA (STV) visitors being allowed into the country to stimulate its economy, reports state news agency NNT.

The most recent meeting of the board chaired by the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, invited Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn and other relevant agencies to discuss the proposal, NNT reported yesterday (Oct 3).

The meeting agreed to suggest Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai and U-Tapao airports as additional direct destinations for medical tourists, after Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports in Bangkok. They are to present the idea to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), the report noted.

Alternative state quarantine facilities have so far taken on 1,123 foreigners, including their caretakers, generating some B114 million in revenue for the country. Another 2,220 such medical tourists are pending approval, with an estimated over 3,000 expected to enter the country in the near future, the report added.

An online shopping program is to be made available, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, targeting the visitors and they will be recommended destinations to visit after their 14-day quarantine is complete, to further their economic contribution, the report noted.

A sub-committee of the CCSA has already green lit principles for the use of spas, resorts and wellness centers as alternative quarantine locations with the Department of Health Service Promotion, drafting guidelines for the practices.

Phuket is also to be developed as a medical hub for the south, the report said.

Mr Anutin voiced his belief that such plans will help prop up the economy, saying medical tourists and long stay visitors should generate some B360 billion for the country.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 5, 2020 by National News Bureau of Thailand

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Phuket luxury resorts become quarantine facilities for travellers on the Special Tourist Visa

05/10/2020

Thailand is opening its doors this week after a 6 month ban on international tourists, catering to those on the new Special Tourist Visa who have time on their hands and money to spend. The first group will arrive to Phuket from China on Thursday, but they all have to go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine and it isn’t cheap in Phuket.

Most of the government approved quarantine facilities in Phuket are luxury hotels. The Senses Resort in Phuket offers quarantine packages for their private pool villas starting at 260,000 baht and go up to 590,000 baht for a family of four. While it’s pricey, the resort owner Suppachoke Laongphet says it doesn’t generate much income.

“We won’t make much profit from these special clients because of the expenses involved … We had to find other sources of income to support our staff and the local economy.”

A lot of preparation has gone into preparing the resort for quarantine guests. The resort’s staff were trained on Covid-19 prevention measures such as how to spot infections and what protective equipment to wear when interacting with the guests. The resort also got rid of some cushions to make the disinfecting easier.

Once the tourists are released from quarantine, officials hope they will help boost Phuket’s economy that heavily relies on foreign tourists. Before the pandemic, tourism made up 93% of Phuket’s income. The island province has been in a crisis since the halt on international travel to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now more than 70% of the island’s businesses are closed.

But some say the Special Tourist Visa scheme won’t be even slightly close to enough to save the country’s battered tourist economy. President of Thai Travel Agents Vichit Prakobkoson is pushing to end the 14 day quarantine for foreign tourists travelling from countries classified as a very low risk for spreading Covid-19. He says the thought of quarantine “repulses” many potential tourists.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 5, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Four Points By Sheraton expands In Thailand with the opening of Four Points By Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort

03/10/2020

PHUKET: Four Points by Sheraton makes a breakthrough in Thailand, with the opening of Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort. With 600 rooms, the hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Phuket’s most famous beach destination. Whether guests are visiting for work or fun, the hotel is sure to cater to the needs of today’s everyday traveler with its approachable design, stylish comfort and all of the brand’s popular extras.

“We are excited to see the opening of the Four Points by Sheraton brand in a resort destination with the opening of Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort,” said Rajeev Menon, President, Asia Pacific (excluding China), Marriott International.

“The brand’s comfortable hospitality experience and the hotel’s location in the heart of Phuket will raise the bar for hospitality in this enduringly popular destination. With 14 different brands now present in Thailand, the debut of Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort further complements Marriott International’s commitment to growth in the region and underscores the confidence we have in the travel industry.”

Nestled in a crescent-shaped bay of white sand, overlooking the azure ocean on Phuket’s highly sought-after west coast, Patong Beach is one of Thailand’s top tourism hubs. Located 45 minutes away from Phuket International Airport, travelers can discover a wealth of attractions located in close proximity to the hotel, from golden beaches, idyllic islands and lush forests, to fun-filled water parks, first-class retail outlets and championship golf courses. For culture seekers, the golden temples, local markets and classical architecture of Phuket’s Old Town are just a short distance away.

Reflecting the brand’s promise to provide for today’s modern travelers seeking work and life balance, Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort features 600 well-appointed, spacious guestrooms and suites, including Pool Access rooms with private terraces. Each room features contemporary décor, comfortable bedding, a spacious bathroom with a power shower, and state-of-the-art amenities including integrated USB ports and high-speed Wi-Fi. The Family suite features a dedicated kid’s room including boat beds and children’s amenities. In addition, the Ocean View suites offer breath-taking vistas of Patong Beach and the Andaman Sea.

Guests can immerse their senses in the design of the hotel, which welcomes them into a world of authentic local art with interiors that reflect Phuket’s classical Peranakan culture. The resort feels like a living gallery, with a collection of almost 70 original paintings and sculptures including works by Artslonga, an acclaimed local artist.

The hotel features five stylish dining venues; Chao Leh Kitchen is a bright all-day restaurant with an open-plan layout and a focus on Phuket cuisine, along with pan-Asian and Western favorites. Sears & Co. offers a casual dining experience with indoor and alfresco seating, including a garden shaded by tropical trees, while The Deck Beach Club Patong is the perfect place to kick back and relax whilst listening to DJ beats and enjoying light bites and signature cocktails, including Phuket’s Best Brews on tap, as part of Four Points’ signature local craft beer program. Alternatively, the Lobby Bar is a chic space to take a break at any time of day, while the Pool Bar – with its seven-seat swim-up counter – is an enticing place to cool off.

During the day, guests can recline at The Deck Beach Club Patong, the sea-facing chill-out zone, work out in the 24-hour gym, unwind in a cozy cabana, or take a dip in the three different swimming pools available at the hotel, including a saltwater lagoon pool. Youngsters will be entertained at the Little Sea Gypsies Kid’s Club, where activities range from cooking classes to face painting, kids’ boot camps and more.

With 1,200 square meters of flexible function space, including two ballrooms and over 1,000 square metres of outdoor event space, Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort offers venues for all types of corporate or social gathering. The Akara Grand Ballroom, foyer and pre-function area can cater to up to 500 people for large-scale conventions and gala dinners, while the Kathu Junior Ballroom is ideal for talk-of-the-town events with up to 170 delegates. Seven other bright and well-equipped meeting rooms can be adapted for a range of function types. For couples looking to tie the knot, the hotel can also host truly wonderful weddings, either in the ballrooms or outdoors on the elegant Garden Terrace.

“The opening of Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort affirms our commitment to meeting the growing demand from travelers seeking stylish comfort at great value,” said Jennie Toh, Vice President, Brands, Asia Pacific, Marriott International.

“Phuket is a world-class destination, and the arrival of Four Points by Sheraton on the island will allow business and leisure travelers to experience the honest and uncomplicated service the brand is known for.”

Daryn Hudson, the resort’s General Manager, said, “We are very excited to welcome guests to Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort for the first time. We look forward to creating inspiring experiences that showcase the island’s rich cultural heritage while providing travelers with everything they need to rest, relax and stay connected.”

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 3, 2020 by PR

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Tourism Minister confirms more inbound flights of tourists

02/10/2020

PHUKET: Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has announced that a second flight of tourists to arrive in Thailand under the new Special Tourist Visa (STV) will land in Bangkok on Oct 26, followed by a third flight arriving from Europe on Nov 1.

Speaking to the press in Bangkok yesterday (Oct 1), Minister Phiphat confirmed that a group of 150 Chinese nationals, all entering the country on the new Special Tourist Visa (STV), will be the first foreign tourists allowed into Thailand on a chartered flight under the conditional entry scheme for selected groups of foreigners, endorsed by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Mr Phiphat explained the group will fly directly to Phuket on a chartered Air Asia flight, adding that another, smaller, group of seven Chinese businessmen will arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on a private jet on the same day, reports state news agency NNT.

Another group of 126 Chinese tourists, from Guangdong will fly to Suvarnabhumi airport on a chartered Thai Smile flight on Oct 25, he said.

A third group, of 120 tourists from Scandinavia and Schengen countries, will arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on a Thai Airways International flight on Nov 1, he added.

Regarding alternative local state quarantine (ALSQ) facilities to accommodate the tourists, Mr Phiphat said three hotels in Phuket and one each in Chon Buri and the northeastern province of Buriram had been chosen.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 2, 2020

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B2.5bn private equity trust launched to target hotels in distress

01/10/2020

BANGKOK: A tripartite agreement has launched a private equity trust that will target the acquisition of hotels and resorts in distress due to the COVID-19 economic crisis in the name of renovating, repositioning and relaunching the hotels, and helping to reboot Thailand’s tourism industry.

Bangkok-based private equity firm Destination Capital signed an agreement with KTB Securities (Thailand) Public Company Limited (KTBST SEC) and MFC Asset Management Public Company Limited (MFC) to capitalize and launch the “DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust”, said an announcement issued yesterday (Sept 30).

The trust will acquire hotels in Thailand and target investor returns of up to 15% per year with a five- to seven-year holding period, explained the release.

Destination Capital “will source, acquire, reposition and asset manage hotels acquired by DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust with KTBST SEC acting as Trust Settlor and Trust Manager and MFC as Trustee under this SEC regulated structure” Destination Capital CEO James A. Kaplan said in the release.

“The investment strategy is to acquire urban and resort hotels and then renovate, reposition and rebrand to increase value of the properties in order to generate meaningful returns to investors utilizing the experience gained by Destination Group with its 24-year track record in Thailand of buying, managing, and selling hotels particularly during times of distress,” he added.

“We are pleased to play such an important role to support the rejuvenation of the Thai travel and tourism industry with the announcement of DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust,” said Mr Kaplan.

“This trust will invest in strategic hospitality assets to facilitate re-employment and hotel re-openings to re-launch Thailand as a preferred global travel destination. This could not have been done without the support of our advisor and trust manager, KTBST SEC and MFC as trustee,” he added.

Mr Kaplan also noted that the DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust will afford investors the opportunity to participate in the rebound of the Thai hotel and resort industry.

“During [the] covid-19 pandemic, with tourism significantly affected, tourist arrivals collapsed from approximately 40 million visitors in 2019 to an estimated 7 million visitors in 2020 which represents most arrivals through March 2020. There will be a gradual rebound in 2021 provided there is a meaningful vaccine and flight schedules restart to pick up the anticipated demand,” said the release.

“The trust will acquire freehold hotels and resorts located in prime destinations and locations including Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Phuket, as these locations are expected to be the fastest rebounding destinations,” it added.

KTB Securities CEO Natthapong Na Ranong stated that the fund raising for the trust has two main target investor groups “including Institutional investors and High Net worth individuals who are interested to invest in the recovery of the Thai hotel industry by participating in the trust”.

“KTBST SEC will raise funds and act as trust manager to support this important initiative and we look forward to establishing additional trusts and investment vehicles going forward to recapitalize the tourism industry which is such an important part of the Thai economy,” he said.

The trust units which are subject to SEC regulation will be available to both foreign and domestic investors for subscription of the units in October with the target trust capitalization of B2.5 billion. The trust has a five-year investment period extendable subject to market conditions by two years targeting annual returns of up to 15%.

“KTBST SEC has received inquiries about the trust from fund management and securities firms to act as the selling agents, which is a validation that  investors see opportunity in the travel and tourism industry in Thailand through a regulated structure backed by the  proven track record of the asset manager,” the release noted.

Although private equity trusts are new in Thailand, they are common and widely accepted in other jurisdictions and serve as an easy and flexible way to invest in alternative asset classes with higher investor returns, it added.

“Under the collaboration among KTBST SEC as the trust manager, MFC as trustee, and DC as the Asset Manager, DESCAP 1 Private Equity Trust will facilitate a needed financial boost for the hotel industry and serve as an alternative asset class within investor portfolios. I believe this as the opportunity for investors who seek an investment in the Thai tourism industry which offers a degree of flexibility with full accountability,” Mr Natthapong said.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 1, 2020

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