Hotels in Bangkok, though not yet put out of business, have seen their occupancy rates crash to 2040 per cent due to the sprawling redshirt protest, which has also parched business for serviced apartments, condominium projects and meetings and exhibitions.
"Hotels cannot stop operating, but they decided to close some [food and beverage] outlets," Prakit Chinamourphong, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said yesterday.
Average occupancy at most hotels located near the Rajprasong intersection plummeted from 6570 per cent to 20 per cent as guests fled and no new ones came to fill up the vacancies. With so few customers, the hotels had to shutter some of their food and beverage outlets temporarily.
In other areas of the capital hotel occupancy plunged from more than 60 per cent to 3040 per cent as the red shirts fanned out through the city. Hotels have also been hit by a drought in advance bookings from overseas.
The hotel industry has been losing more than Bt300 million per day, he added.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanapron, honorary president of the ThaiChinese Tourism Promotion Association, said Thailand had already forfeited Bt100 million from China.
He said 80 of the 100 flights chartered by China for Songkran had been cancelled. Outbound tourists in China are estimated at 40 million this year.
Domestic politics is driving away tourists from the country, which also promotes domestic destinations to attract international tourists. Tour operators overseas are promoting other countries such as Japan and Taiwan instead of Thailand.
"The political unrest has brought hopelessness to the tourism industry. We are calling on everyone to end the problem, so we can reclaim tourists," he said.
Quality Houses is suffering at least a 10percentagepoint drop in occupancy for the Songkran festival at its Centre Point serviced apartment, which is now 70 per cent full.
Suwanna Buddhaprasart, senior executive vice president, said prolonged protests would only worsen the situation and both sides should renew negotiations.
The inconvenience that results, which also chills demand for city condos, will not benefit the protesters, she said.
Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of CB Richard Ellis (Thailand), said some clients whose condo projects are located along the Skytrain routes had halted marketing activities for the time being. They should resume after midMay.
Foreigners looking to invest in downtown property have also adopted a waitandsee attitude until the dust settles.
Capital inflow has been stagnant since 2009, she said.
Akapol Sorasuchart, president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, said four of the events it had supported to be hosted in Thailand were cancelled, while nine events were postponed due to the political chaos.
The country is expected to kiss goodbye to Bt450 millionBt500 million due to the cancellations and rescheduling involving 6,234 delegates, he said.
The cancellations were for the Apollo Tyres India meeting, the World GM meeting of the Millennium Hilton Hotel, Dupont Indonesia's sales meeting and a Dell India conference.
Most cancellations were in the meeting and incentive category. Those activities were transferred to Hong Kong, Dubai and Malaysia.
The postponed events include the Agel World Tour with 4,000 guests.
The total damage to the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) business could rise to Bt800 million, said Akapol.
The TCEB has been communicating with representatives overseas about the problem to keep Thailand on the radar screen as a MICE city.
TCEB may need to review its MICE targets - 780,000 MICE visitors and Bt56 billion revenue - he added.
Kongkrit Hiranyakit, chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the political turmoil would sap tourist confidence over the next few months.
Arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport are already off by 15 per cent every day for damage of Bt140 millionBt150 million per day. The figure is expected to increase if the situation is not eased.
The council said the country had already missed out on business opportunities worth Bt50 billion in 2008 and Bt100 billion in 2009 due to the political strife. The shortfall will continue if the political problems keep up.
The country's image and tourist confidence have also taken a big blow as a consequence, it said.
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