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Rock Thailand, Japanese start-ups eye Thai businesses

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Rock Thailand, Japanese start-ups eye Thai businesses | The Thaiger

Noting Thailand as the new south east Asian regional innovation hub, the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, in collaboration with Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, CP Group and True Corporation, launched Rock Thailand, a start-up incubation project.

Rock Thailand is being used to open a stage for 10 top technology start-ups from Japan to present their business models to 20 key Thai enterprises and take part in its networking session.

Japanese ambassador to Thailand, Shiro Sadoshima, said the Rock Thailand event is being held as part of Japan’s Open-Innovation Columbus project to support Japanese start-ups in the areas of innovation and knowledge exchange. The project began with the initiation of talks between leading Thai enterprises and Japanese start-ups.

Japan aims to promote cooperation between its start-ups and the Thai business community, said Pichet Durongkaveroj, minister of Digital Economy and Society, adding that this is what has led to the Open Innovation Columbus Project.

This is in line with the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy, which aims to drive the economy through innovations and digital transformation, including the Smart City project and development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Thailand is being seen as the new innovation hub of the region outside Japan – both in terms of trade and investment. Under the regime, small and medium enterprises stand to benefit from the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology to connect businesses in Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the global market.

Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of CP Group, said the corporation attaches importance to the nation’s digital transformation.

“Our vision is not just for our group of companies, but for Thailand as a whole. Thailand needs to invest in research and development for start-up businesses and their ecosystem.

“The collaboration with the Embassy of Japan and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry enables us to exchange views with successful Japanese start-ups. We believe the power of leading start-ups from Japan will support us in developing innovations and advanced technologies and escalate the country to its Thailand 4.0 vision,” he said.

The event was co-hosted by CP Group and True.



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Phuket hotel watch – 3 months down, 9 to go in 2019

Bill Barnett

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Phuket hotel watch – 3 months down, 9 to go in 2019 | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of C9Hotelworks.com

At the beginning of the year Phuket’s tourism and hotel sector was cautiously optimistic after a strong first half of 2018 and humbling second half. Key terms that kept popping up were Mainland Chinese, Thai Baht Appreciation, Elections and Supply Concerns.

So today, with three months of performance under the belt in 2019 what are the key trends in hotel trading? These can best be compressed in the following points –

According to data from hotel benchmarking group STR, Thailand remains Southeast Asia’s leading destination for Mainland Chinese, but the gloss is being diminished by Vietnam’s meteoric rise, and strong numbers by the Philippines and Cambodia.

Market-wide RevPar shunk by 0.04% in 2018 and flat demand at the onset of the year is now shifting into negative territory moving into February and beyond. Turning back to last year, group demand is falling which is as key concern in a wholesale driven marketplace.

One stark positive is that RevPar is being propped up by rates and not occupancy. A key takeaway is that in peak and high season, Phuket hotels are able to drive rates up in key periods and continue to do so. This of course is a broad trend.  Good hotels tend to perform at higher levels, while poorly managed ones remain subpar.

Getting beyond the numbers, as I speak to hoteliers the expectation is that wholesalers remain a critical component of the island’s hotel industry and despite the expected shift with technology to more direct bookings, the reality is that wholesale models are sensitive to demand volatility and the result of this feeding frenzy most often will be either flat rates for the year or in some cases a retraction.

We expect the remainder of 2019 to be challenging. Some hotels will look at this as an opportunity to reposition, renovate or cut costs. While others will look at new segments, niche offerings or emerging markets like India to regain momentum.

As for the top critical issues facing Phuket hotels, in my opinion these can be distilled in the following Top 3 Things Keep Me Awake at Night…

• Mainland Chinese – If tourism players or hotels believe the damage to Brand Phuket is over, think again. Talking to key tour operators there remains a hangover from last year’s boat sinking incident and travellers remain keenly concerned over safety. Only time and more concentrated promotion will see a return of the numbers.

• Growing Supply and Demand Imbalance – The current pipeline is just over 8,000 keys in development on the island. What’s more concerning is that projects in planning are not represented in this metric, and by our estimate there are approximately 5,000 more keys in planning. While both the pipeline and planning numbers will see some wash, the sum total exceeds current and forecasted demand.

Moreso, the rise of unlicensed condominiums, apartments, houses and villas is continuing unabated and is further exacerbating supply issues. Every time you see a group of tourists renting a 3 or 4 bedroom villa, that’s three or four hotel rooms that lay empty. Government control of unlicensed properties is a key issue facing Phuket’s tourism industry.

• Diminished Natural Resources and Strained Infrastructure – Water tops the list and there is little doubt we are reaching the tipping point with mounting shortages and soaring demand. Electricity is another concern. Lastly is a rising number of vehicles on the road, a urbanising trajectory and slow development of roads and public transport.

To these point’s lets revisit the hotel development pipeline and reflect that a island long term master plan, zoning for new tourism expansion and requirements for developers to invest in public infrastructure to obtain operating licenses is sorely lacking. Something has to give on this front.

In conclusion am I pessimistic about Phuket’s tourism and hotel future in 2019 and beyond? Absolutely not, direct airlinks are growing and the island has a well-structured capacity for handling tourism, but I firmly believe looking into our problems, discussing and finding ways to resolve these are critical to a sustainable growth pattern.

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‘Seastead’ set up off coast of Phuket

The Thaiger

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‘Seastead’ set up off coast of Phuket | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Nation TV

A Thai couple has successfully set up a ‘Seastead’ near Phuket.

Seasteading is aiming to build floating societies with “significant political autonomy”. Nearly half the world’s surface is unclaimed by any nation-state, and many coastal nations can legislate “seasteads” in their territorial waters (like a “homestead” but wetter).

The nation TV reports that website ‘Bitcoin.com’ and ‘Ocean.builders’ report that the Thai couple Chad Elwartowski and Nadia Summergirl are are the first seasteaders who established a small seastead 12 nautical miles off Phuket.

Most of the construction of the Seasteading was built on the island of Phuket. The installation in the sea started on January 9.

Mr Elwartowski reveals that the reason that they have chosen to settle near Phuket as the construction price is cheap. The sea is suitable for the establishment as waves are not too high and can attract many tourists.

SOURCE: Nation TV

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Massive 11 hotel project, surf club and waterpark for Kata, Phuket

Bill Barnett

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Massive 11 hotel project, surf club and waterpark for Kata, Phuket | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett, C9Hotelworks.com

Thai developer K.W. Plaza group has unveiled plans for a large-scale mixed-use project called The Beach Plaza on 15 rai, that will have 11 three and four star hotels with a total of 1.490 rooms. The developer is already pitching the unconstructed project to global hotel interests for an imminent sale.

The properties will have varying room sizes from 25 to 35 square metres and range in size from 78 to 204 rooms. Part of the development scheme will see the hotels individually sold off to hotel investors and/or operators.

Late last year the group built and sold the Surf Resort in Patong which was brokered by JLL to a Singapore-based owner/operator.

Other components of the project include a surf club, waterpark, and freestanding restaurants and retail.

An initial hotel has already obtained EIA approval and is currently for sale, with construction of other properties to be phased. The Beach Plaza is off-beach, behind the Kata Night Market and close to Club Med, Ozo and the Ibis.

For more details on the project click HERE.

Massive 11 hotel project, surf club and waterpark for Kata, Phuket | News by The Thaiger Massive 11 hotel project, surf club and waterpark for Kata, Phuket | News by The Thaiger

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