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The China Syndrome, south east Asia’s tourism dilemma

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The China Syndrome, south east Asia’s tourism dilemma | Thaiger

PHOTO: Lunar New Year celebrations in Bali – Jakarta Post

“When China sneezes, the rest of south east asia catches a cold.”

From quiet markets in Malaysia, empty rooms in Hanoi’s hotels and barren beaches in Bali, China’s economic slowdown and weakening yuan are sending shockwaves felt across south east Asia’s vacation belt. Thailand is just one of many countries currently affected by the Chinese staying at home as their currency abroad weakens.

The Chinese outbound travel boom stoking tourism across south east Asia is now in reverse gear. And the abrupt decline of Chinese packing their bags for a holiday is becoming a painful lesson for the countries that became overly dependent on Asia’s top economy and its burgeoning middle class.

Rising incomes over the past decade fueled Chinese consumers and their hunger for travel, making them the world’s largest outbound travel market with the total number of outbound trips more than doubling from 57 million trips in 2010 to 131 million trips in 2017.

Now, the slump is expected to continue into 2020 if the US-China trade war continues to weigh down the Chinese economy.

The surge of Chinese tourism has spurred accomodation providers and developers to meet the demand but there are still hundreds of new hotels in the pipeline and many half-built in south east Asia’s hot tourist zones. Phuket currently has 51 new hotels either under construction or in the early stages of development adding more supply to the island’s dwindling demand. There will be 18% more hotel rooms by 2024, according to consultancy C9 Hotelworks. International arrivals in Thailand this year so far have grown only 2%, data from Thai tourism ministry show with the Chinese demographic dropping quite steeply.

The Thai capital is also expecting a new Ritz Carlton by 2023 as part of a $3.9 billion development, while Hilton will manage two hotels due for 2022 opening.

“The supply was based on people’s unrealistic expectations,” said C9’S managing director Bill Barnett.

Mandarin-speaking tours, Chinese eateries and Chinese mobile payment services mushroomed from Da Nang to Yogyakarta, Yangon to Hua Hin. These travellers thronged to south east Asian holiday spots, lured by their proximity and familiar cuisines.

Following in the footsteps of the west 40 years before, the Chinese were now enjoying the exotic wonders of the Asia’s south east and its many and varied cultures.

The decline is already showing up in some hotel operators’ results. Thailand’s Central Plaza Hotel reported a softening of its hotel business in the second quarter due to decreasing Chinese demand, Ronnachit Mahattanapruet, the company’s senior vice president, said at an investor briefing last month. Occupancy in its Thai properties dropped 7% in the quarter, and the Bangkok-based operator has 2,040 rooms in the pipeline to add to its existing portfolio of 6,678 rooms.

In Singapore, casino operators Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore announced a $9 billion expansion of their resorts earlier this year after the country’s skyline was beamed across cineplexes as the setting of the Hollywood hit “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Marriott International has 140 hotels in the pipeline across the region, with plans to more than triple its portfolio by 2023 in the Philippines, whose white-sand beaches and turquoise waters are such a draw that the island of Boracay had to close last year for upgrades to its sewage system.

The boom dissipated in the first half of 2019 as China’s economy slowed, its yuan weakened to historically low levels, and the ongoing US-China trade war weighed on consumer confidence. The decline is also affecting China’s economy at home, as big-ticket purchases like cars and luxury goods slow.

SOURCES: Bloomberg | Thailand Tourist Authority of Thailand | c9Hotelworks

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Business

The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more

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The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more | Thaiger

PRESS RELEASE

The Thiager and its sister company Tadoo, have announced they will enter a strategic partnership with the Bangkok-based fintech company, Masii.

Having joined forces with Masii, The Thaiger aims to provide its 6 million-plus monthly users with exclusive deals and packages such as the Thailand re-entry package, comprising of the Certificate of Entry (COE), Covid-19 Travel Insurance and a Covid-19 Test.

Sapir Matmon, of Tadoo, says “This tie-up will allow us to provide our readers with all-inclusive packages specifically designed to make the whole process of coming back to Thailand as simple as possible. And by booking through us, all service fees will be waived – a saving of more than 1,000 Baht. We’re confident you won’t find a better price in the market right now.”

The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more | News by Thaiger

“We can provide everything you need to enter Thailand hassle-free and within 12 hours, which is the fastest in the market.” Says Maxwell Meyer, CEO of Masii.

Covid-19 has drastically accelerated the industry’s movement toward shifting products and services online.

Sapir says “We are tremendously pleased to welcome the Masii team and work alongside Maxwell, as one of the stars of the local fintech scene.”

Tadoo, The Thiager’s sister company, has also teamed up with Masii on their Thai price comparison platform, tadoo.co, which offers a similar range of products including, insurance, finance, internet, and mobile.

The goal of Tadoo is to bring clarity to the Thai market and assist consumers in making better-informed choices by offering a quick and convenient solution for getting the products they want without the hassle.

For more information on the Thailand Re-Entry Full Package, click HERE.

The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more | News by Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff

Maya Taylor

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Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff | Thaiger
PHOTO: Christian Junker on Flickr

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is calling for vaccine doses to protect around 20,000 airline crew and ground staff before the country re-opens to international tourists. The CAAT says it’s vital that those working in the aviation industry are protected and has submitted its request to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

According to Suthipong Kongpool from the CAAT, there are around 20,000 airline employees, including crew and ground staff, who will need to be vaccinated. As 2 doses are required, a total of 40,000 doses are needed to fully protect staff. The Bangkok Post reports that the CAAT will meet on Thursday to review the aviation sector’s readiness for when the country re-opens without international arrivals having to quarantine.

Suthipong says they are seeking enough vaccine doses to protect employees of Thai-registered carriers.

“It’s a confidence-building measure for tourists and those providing the services to them.”

From July, the southern island of Phuket will be the first part of the country to waive quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals, subject to 70% of local residents being vaccinated. The “sandbox” project is a pilot programme that will be expanded to other areas if it proves successful. Between October and the end of the year, 5 other provinces – Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Krabi, Chon Buri, and Chiang Mai – are expected to adopt the programme. Officials hope to be able to re-open the country fully from January 2022.

According to the CAAT, the first foreign visitors expected to return to Phuket will be Chinese tourists, given that country’s success in managing the pandemic. Meanwhile, the CAAT says Thailand will see a 7% increase in air traffic this month compared to last, with a total of 36,150 domestic and international flights.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan

Maya Taylor

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Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan | Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

Union representatives are questioning changes made to the employment terms of Thai Airways staff as part of the national carrier’s debt-restructuring plan. The labour union claims the changes have removed or diluted several staff entitlements and welfare benefits, pointing the finger at acting president, Chansin Treenuchagron, who signed the orders.

The union is calling on the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare to review the changes to check if they align with a debt-restructuring plan submitted to the Central Bankruptcy Court. According to a Bangkok Post report, the union believes the signed orders may go against the terms of the rehab plan currently being reviewed by creditors. They include an order related to the company’s new organisational structure, as well as the screening of workers who will continue to be employed by the carrier during and after the rehab process.

Union representatives accuse the airline of changing the terms and conditions of employee contracts, meaning weaker welfare benefits. They are asking the DLPW to confirm if the changes comply with the 1940 Bankruptcy Act, the 1975 Labour Relations Act, and the 1998 Labour Protection Act. The union says that if the changes are found to violate the acts, Chansin should be ordered to cancel the orders and draw up new employment terms that comply with the airline’s rehab plan and with employment law.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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