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Japan’s Okinawa takes on Bali and Phuket

Bill Barnett

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Japan’s Okinawa takes on Bali and Phuket | Thaiger

by Bill Barnett

While Okinawa is often called the Hawaii of Japan, a changing Asian travelscape driven by low-cost airline carriers is seeing the resort destination attract a rising number of regional tourists. Last year, arrivals hit 9.84 million which is now elevating the market to the likes Asia’s twin resort icons, Bali and Phuket.

Summing up the current shift in trends is C9 Hotelworks new Okinawa Hotel Market Review with key catalysts of change being rising airlift, visa exemptions for a number of Asian countries including Thailand and favorable currency exchange rates to the Japanese yen.

International airlift is delivering more and more overseas travellers, in 2018 domestic routes supplied 71% of the visitors to the destination. Good news this year is that traction has remained strong as year-to-date arrivals through May registered 4.6% growth. Key overseas markets are South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China and the US.

Market-wide occupancy for hotels in the latest available data was 64% with an average accommodation spend per person, per day registered at approximately USD218. With over 36,000 hotel and ryokan keys, the current pipeline is showing 5,295 keys under development.

Key incoming brands reflect more global brands including Hilton and Four Seasons. The latter is being developed by Malaysia’s Berjaya Group, fresh from an extremely successful project in Kyoto. Berjaya is again set to leverage the Four Seasons brand on a hotel residence component of the project.

Despite high development costs given pressure from the upcoming run up to the Olympics, Okinawa’s resort trajectory remains strongly positive given the current expansion at Naha Airport. With low interest rates in a stable marketplace, developers are increasingly looking to the both Okinawa and the outer islands with rising interest, as the destination is poised to play on a broader global stage.

To read the C9 Hotelworks Okinawa Hotel Market Review CLICK.

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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.

Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Transport Ministry: refunds to cancel travel for Covid-19

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Transport Ministry: refunds to cancel travel for Covid-19 | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Travellers can cancel travel and be refunded due to Covid-19

The Transport Ministry is launching plans to deal with forced cancellations of travel plans due to the most recent Covid-19 outbreak. With recent restrictions on entertainment venues, Songkran festivities, and some areas implementing quarantines for domestic travel, many holiday travellers will likely have no choice but to cancel their plans. The Transport Ministry has declared that all passengers by bus or train scheduled to travel between April 9 and 18 can receive a full refund on cancelled trips. They hope to help control the spreading of the Covid-19 outbreak by giving people the easier option to cancel travel over the Songkran holiday.

The State Railway of Thailand will refund tickets but advise people to cancel their trips at least 24 hours before the original scheduled travel. They also said that any tickets bought using both cash and state welfare card benefits will only receive a refund on the cash portion of the ticket. Special tickets bought as part of a group guided tour or on a chartered train trip will also be fully refundable if cancelled 1 day in advance. The SRT did say exceptions would be made to allow cancellation only 1 hour before departure if the departure or arrival location is declared a strict or maximum control zone.

Online reservations are asked to send an email to passenger-ser@railway.co.th with your e-tickets and a refund request.

For those who decide to keep their holiday plans and not cancel travel, the SRT is strongly advising all passengers to wear face masks at all times and adhere to social distancing protocol. The Thai Chana system will be used for checking in and out and travellers are being asked to notify staff in the station if they see anyone with flu-like symptoms, or if they experience any symptoms themselves.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Expats

Airlines and hotels try to cope with cancellations for Songkran

Tim Newton

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Airlines and hotels try to cope with cancellations for Songkran | Thaiger

Airlines and hotels are reporting cancellations from many of their customers as travellers react to the news of the new clusters and infections being detected in the provinces. Bars and entertainment venues close for 2 weeks in 44 provinces from midnight tonight, according to an order from the Thai PM. Entertainment venues in the other 35 provinces will remain open at the discretion of their provincial officials.

The Thai government has also announced today a series of measures to assist with refunds for people that have cancelled, or been forced to cancel, their bookings.

Thai VietJet asked us to publish their arrangements due to the queries from their customers. We will publish any other announcements from airlines and large organisations as they come to hand…

Due to the Covid-19 escalation in Thailand, the airline announces its policy to support passengers holding Thai Vietjet tickets on all domestic routes.

For passengers who booked tickets and made payments before 10 April 2021 with travel date between 12 -30 April 2021, may choose 1 of the supports as following:

  1. One-time changing the travel date free of charge. New travel date must be by July 31, 2021 and subject to flight availability. Rerouting is not applicable.
  2. Keeping the value of the ticket as a Credit Voucher, which is valid within July 31, 2021.

Passengers who have travel dates fall into the above-mentioned period and wish to contact the airline for support regarding change of flight or credit shell by voucher (at least 72 hours before the original departure time), please choose 1 of the options below:

  1. By E-Form: https://bit.ly/2L6Yv4z (Recommended Channel)
  2. By Line: @Thaivietjet
  3. By email: vz.support@vietjetair.com
  4. By Live Chat at https://skyfun.vietjetair.com/

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