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Asset World says hotel bookings in Thailand starting to recover

Jack Burton

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Asset World says hotel bookings in Thailand starting to recover | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wallapa Traisorat, CEO of Asset World Corp, listens during an interview in Bangkok yesterday - Bloomberg
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The hotel development unit of billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Thailand’s richest man, says bookings have begun to recover from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. The epidemic has impacted some 60% of the hotel and retail properties in Asset World Corp’s portfolio, deterring tourism and causing events to be cancelled, according to CEO Wallapa Traisorat.

“We’re starting to see a pickup in bookings now. We’re hopeful that the government campaign to promote domestic tourism will boost the sector.”

Travel restrictions, particularly of Chinese travellers, and fear of the virus’s spread have led to a slump in the tourism sector, on which Thailand heavily relies for economic growth. Wallapa also said footfall in some of Asset World’s malls has declined. The firm develops hotels, shopping malls and office buildings. It was listed on the stock market last year in a 48 billion baht IPO.

The company’s biggest hotel in Bangkok, Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, has had less than 50% occupancy this month, according to Wallapa, and shoppers at its flagship retail destination, Asiatique, have also dropped more than half. But other locations weren’t affected at all, such as a hotel in the popular destination of Hua Hin, mostly used by domestic tourists. That hotel remained fully booked, she said.

“The impact on revenue from the coronavirus is likely to be short term.”

Asset World’s shares have declined about 5.1% this year, compared with a 4.7% slide in Thailand’s benchmark stock market index.

The kingdom has so far reported 35 confirmed cases the virus that spread from China. Of those, 17 have recovered.

Chinese visitors are the biggest source of spending in the Thai tourism sector, and their absence has put the economy on course for expansion of less than 1% in January through March.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand

Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Merve Selcuk Simsek

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. Around 120 to 150 tourists departing from China are set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 after a 6 month ban on international tourists. They’ll have to go through a 14 day state quarantine, but after that, they may not be able to enjoy some of the island’s beaches. A report from Bloomberg says it’s “unlikely” beaches and parks will fully open to overseas travellers until a vaccine is out.

Thailand’s borders won’t fully reopen to international tourists until a vaccine is widely available to the public, according to Tourism Council of Thailand president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn. For the time being, only tourists on select charter flights with a 90 day Special Tourist Visa can enter the country.

“It’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial … Once we’ve tested our reopening plan for a month, we can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.”

The new Special Tourist Visa is an effort intended to help revive Thailand’s tourism industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bloomberg, the sector makes but about a fifth of the nation’s economy. Last year, the tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion baht with about 40 million foreign visitors. With travel restrictions in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, Chairat predicts tourism revenue will drop 82.6% to 336.5 billion baht by the end of the year.

“Businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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Economy

Cabinet approves co-payment of 3,000 baht each for 10 million consumers

Maya Taylor

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Cabinet approves co-payment of 3,000 baht each for 10 million consumers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.bitcoretech.com

In its latest round of direct economic stimulus, the Thai government is to offer a co-payment of 3,000 baht each to 10 million Thai citizens for a period of 3 months. The scheme is expected to kick off on October 23 and run up the end of the year, with the co-payment subsidising half the cost of purchases, but excluding alcohol, tobacco, or the government’s bi-monthly lottery. There will be a maximum daily co-payment of 150 baht, and 3,000 baht per person in total.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri says Thai citizens over the age of 18 can sign up for the scheme from October 16. The subsidy will be transferred to consumers’ electronic wallets. Anucha says the scheme will cost around 30 billion baht and will provide a much-needed boost to small businesses. Businesses interested in participating can register from tomorrow.

The Bangkok Post reports that Cabinet have also approved the addition of an extra 1,500 baht to the monthly living allowance for nearly 14 million citizens holding state welfare cards. Recipients will get the 1,500 baht in 3 installments of 500 baht between October and December.

The government also plans to compensate businesses that hire new graduates, through the introduction of a co-payment plan. Companies hiring students who work part-time and are registered in the social security system, will receive help from the government. This is a change from the previous stipulation that only graduates not registered in the social security scheme could participate in the program.

Under the employment subsidy program, the government will pay 50% of graduates’ salaries for one year, beginning next month. Around 260,000 new graduates are expected to be included in the programme, which will be financed from the government’s 400 billion baht economic recovery fund.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

The Thaiger

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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