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Currency will be a key driver in Phuket’s (eventual) tourism recovery?

Bill Barnett

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Currency will be a key driver in Phuket’s (eventual) tourism recovery? | The Thaiger
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OPINION

by Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com

In the lead-up to the Covid-19 crisis one constant complaint by Thailand’s hotel sector has been the strength of the Thai Baht. Zeroing in specifically on the Mainland Chinese market, the rapid demise to the island was in part triggered by the tragic boat accident in mid-2018, along with a number of other country-wide negative tourism stories that hit China’s social media spotlight.

Of course, later the blame game shifted to China’s economic slowdown, the pending trade war with the US and finally the rise of lower priced regional competitors such as Vietnam. Looking into the metrics, while the 2018 incident promoted a downturn, the reality is the later stage weak numbers can be attributed to many things, including currency flips.

So, sitting in my office on a Saturday, my gut is telling me Thailand looks set in April to be over the worst of the cases, and it makes sense to start looking ahead to what tourism recovery may look like. Mind you May is not looking all that great so let’s fast forward to June.

Please understand I am not deluded enough as a certain Tweeting Cheeto in Washington D.C. to say everyone will be back in church by Easter, or in this case the temple, but statistically Covid-19 numbers seem to be reducing.

I thought it made sense to highlight some of the currencies attached to Phuket’s key tourism markets and see if the present outlook was positive or negative, so here we go…

Chinese Yuan (RMB)
Today, sitting at 4.65. Last September was down 4.25. Now if we go back to the heyday of 2018 the mid part of the year flirted with 5.00 and above. So, while we are not there yet, the good news is the Yuan is getting stronger in a market that is key to Phuket’s recovery. Result POSITIVE

Russian Ruble
In 2019, 44% of international passenger arrivals were from China and Russia. The Russian ‘Snowbird’ market is key to island tourism due to a high average length of stay – around 12 days. This seasonal trend runs from October to April. Today, the Russian Ruble is .44. Taking a look back at this last peak season the Ruble was between .48 and .49 so the currency has taken a sharp hit, mostly on the bottom falling out of global oil prices. If you move back to 2017, trading was at .55 to .55. That said, snow is a mighty big driver of demand for Phuket but the weak Ruble will likely mute some demand. Result NEGATIVE

British Pound
I’m not even going to touch how Brexit may or may not impact this currency, but let’s look at the current situation. The Pound is 40.69 to the Baht. During the mid-part of last year it had moved to the 37 to 38 level during the Brexit debate and clearly this impacted UK travellers to Thailand at a time of summer holidays. Checking into 2017 and 2018, while off the sublime days of 55 in 2016, trading in the former was in the range of 44-45. While we’d like to say 40 and above is heading in the right direction, volatility is likely. Result NEUTRAL

Euro
Today the Euro is sitting at 35.75. Much of Q3 and Q4 last year, it played in the 33 to 34 level, and again was a negative for European travellers to Thailand. In 2018 strong performance was 37 to 39. Still, the trend in the past few months, I believe gives hope for summer travelers to have good value from Europe and this remains a strong Thai market. Result POSITIVE

Singapore Dollar
The Sing dollar is currently slightly above 23. Taking a look at late Q3 and Q4 2019, the currency was down in the 22 to 22.5 level. While Singapore has strong airlift to Phuket, the market does work on value and the current swing up is a definite improvement. Looking at location location location as the mantra and an upswing, this is a natural early mover for Phuket to recovery. Result POSITIVE

One notable omission is the US dollar and while North America is not a leading market for Phuket the cartel of the brand and sentiment of global travellers as a reference marker is important so the recent uplift of the dollar over 33 to the Baht is again a step in the right direction.

Still early days, but again, will be interesting to look how currency plays out in the Covid-19 recovery story for hotels.

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Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

50,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to arrive in Thailand in early February, more ahead

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50,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to arrive in Thailand in early February, more ahead | The Thaiger
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The first 50,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines are scheduled to arrive in Thailand in the first week of February. The upcoming shipment is part of the first lot of 26 million doses on the agreed purchase in October last year. Still, Thailand needs another 35 million doses as the procured vaccines are enough for only 30 million people. The price negotiation for more AstraZeneca doses is currently underway.

According to the Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the vaccine price agreed on the purchase made in October last year is 150 baht per dose. More vaccines are expected to arrive in March and April. He also confirms he would be the first person in the country to receive an inoculation of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Apart from AstraZeneca, Thailand has also ordered the Chinese made Sinovac vaccines, but the delivery might be delayed because the vaccine’s final registration is still pending in China.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Famous Thai actor tests positive for Covid-19

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Famous Thai actor tests positive for Covid-19 | The Thaiger

A famous Thai actor has announced he is infected with Covid-19after posting a video on Instagram. He says both him and his mother were tested, but he was the only one with a positive test result.

Techin Ployphet, aka DJ Matoom, says he met an infected but asymptomatic friend on January 9, but that friend didn’t know he was infected until January 19 in which he told Matoom.

Matoom detailed his timeline in the Instagram video which reveals that on January 7, he was at his condominium in the Ladprao area, but then visited Power-Buy at the Central Ladprao shopping centre at around 8pm.

The following day, he went to GMM Grammy in the morning to work and then visited the Banyan Tree Hotel at around 4pm. Then, he went to the Big C supermarket in the Ladprao area at 6pm.

On January 9, he says he checked in to a hotel at 9am and had dinner at a rooftop restaurant in the evening. It was there that he met his then-asymptomatic friend. The next evening he left the hotel and had dinner at a Korean restaurant in the Ari area before going back to his condo.

On January 19, he was again working at GMM Grammy in the morning, and then went to Central Embassy for work at 12:30pm. He visited the FoodLand supermarket at The Street Ratchada at 5pm. Then, that same day, he was notified that his friend had tested positive for the virus, which prompted him to also get tested at Bangkok Hospital that night at 10pm. He says he received the positive results yesterday.

Celebrities and actors who worked with him have now taken Covid-19 tests. One of them is actress Natapohn Taemeeruk,who says her test was negative, but will enter a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days and then will get tested again.

The Banyan Tree Hotel has issued a statement saying that it has closed its rooftop restaurant, called “Vertigo,” for cleaning and disinfection, and will reopen it this Saturday. The hotel says it will also disinfect the entire floor where the actor stayed, and has urged all employees, who were in contact with Matoom, to get tested and quarantine themselves for 14 days.

FoodLand supermarket also announced its closure for cleaning and disinfection and says it will reopen this Saturday. The air-conditioning system of the entire mall is also being cleaned. Employees deemed to be at-risk have also been tested and confirmed negative for the virus.

The CCSA’s spokesman, Taweesin Wissanuyothin, says that it is too early to determine whether Matoom could be considered a super-spreader, but he thanked him for disclosing his timeline in the public interest.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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13 Bangkok businesses allowed to reopen tomorrow

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Tomorrow, 13 types of businesses in Bangkok are being allowed to reopen but must have strict disease control measures in place. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration made the decision which would undoubtedly give many businesses some relief as well as potential customers.

Such businesses with restrictions include:

  • Banquet venues, which will need authorisation from BMA for events with over 300 participants
  • Amulet shops and markets
  • Beauty salons, tattoo and piercing shops
  • Fitness centers, but personal trainers and communal steam rooms are not allowed
  • Game Arcades; but all points of contact must be regularly disinfected and facemasks worn at all times.
  • Internet shops
  • Senior nursing homes, but with limited activities
  • Sports venues, except for boxing rings and race tracks, but no audiences allowed
  • Spas, Thai massage shops, excluding massage parlours
  • Gymnasia and boxing venues for training only
  • Bowling alleys and ice skating rinks, but no competitions or audiences allowed
  • Dancing academies
  • Martial art schools, but no tournaments or audiences allowed

Playgrounds, night entertainment venues, cock fighting, fish fighting, child care centres, theme parks, snooker clubs, bull fighting venues, massage parlours, tutoring schools and nurseries, however, are still ordered to stay closed.

The announcement comes after Bangkok saw 14 new cases today, joining 128 other cases reported in Thailand by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Meanwhile, plans for Chinese New Year seem to be on the back burner as the upcoming February 12 holiday has yet to see anything concrete to celebrate the new year. Pattaya city has decided to decorate its streets for the holiday, but like many other provinces, Chon Buri remains as a highly controlled zone, which essentially bans domestic and foreign tourists from entering, despite single digit infections being recently reported by authorities.

The lifting of the measures in Bangkok come after PM Prayut urged the publicto stay away from social gatherings, specifically pointing out political gatherings, which have rocked the streets of the nation’s capital for months.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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