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Unregistered hotels and lodgings told to get their paperwork in order, or close down

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Unregistered hotels and lodgings told to get their paperwork in order, or close down | The Thaiger
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At least 5,000 of the country’s estimated 23,000 unregistered small hotels are expected to get their paperwork in order. The rush to action follows the announcement by the current government to register and comply with the Hotel Act, or be closed down.

Most of Thailand’s busy tourist spots are rampant with small and illegal lodgings for tourists. Whilst the growth of registered hotels has rushed to keep pace with the rising tourist numbers, so too has been the rise of unlicensed properties in Thailand’s hot tourist spots.

The order was made through the controversial Article 44 powers which doesn’t provide for debate or parliamentary endorsement. When announced last week the Thai PM said the order was aimed at bringing illegal hotels and accommodation service providers under better control and boost safety and reliability for guests.

The order will require smaller, unregistered accommodations to comply with the same regulations as properly registered hotels – building regulations, room sizes, the amount of fire extinguishers required, fire escapes, standards of accommodation, accounting standards, etc. The government says there will be a period given – up to 90 days – for properties to operate whilst they get their compliance and standards up to date.

Authorities are also reportedly planning amendments of the Hotel Act to bring room-sharing platforms like Airbnb under a legislative framework. Currently the act allows accommodation offerings with less than four rooms to operate without a hotel licence.

A law-firm has, in English, gone through the steps needed for unregistered accommodation to comply with the Hotel Act….

How to obtain a hotel license in due course

A hotel is defined under the Hotel Act 2004 as any business providing paid accommodation for less than a month, irrespectively of the number or capacity of the rooms. Even the smallest villa and a one-bedroom condominium unit can qualify as a hotel under the law. However, the Hotel Act legitimises ministerial regulations to regulate this otherwise.

To successfully apply for a hotel business application, in general, these seven steps are required:

Step 1: Is the business exempted under the 4-20 privilege? An application is only needed if (i) the business qualifies as a hotel and (ii) such hotel is not license-free. Under the Ministerial Regulation 2008, a hotel license is not required if the business

  • has not more than four rooms on all floors in all buildings,
  • has a total service capacity of no more than twenty guests,
  • qualifies as a small business which provides an additional source of income for the owner, and
  • reports its daily rental business to the government (hotel registrar).

If the business is in-line with these requirements, it is unclear whether it does not qualify as a hotel (“no hotel”) or whether it is a license-free hotel business (“type-zero hotel”). The latest court decisions seem to favor the latter interpretation.

  • Type 0: hotels which are exempted from certain requirements including the need to obtain a hotel business license,
  • Type 1: hotels providing accommodation only, the number of rooms does not exceed fifty, the size of each room is not less than eight square meters,
  • Type 2: hotels providing accommodation and catering or restaurant services, the size of each room is not less than eight square meters,
  • Type 3: hotels giving accommodation, catering or restaurant services, the size of each room is not less than 14 square meters, and which has either conference rooms or entertainment venues which under the Place of Service Act could be a place for dancing, bars, and nightclubs or spa,
  • Type 4: hotels providing accommodation, catering or restaurant services, conference rooms, and entertainment venues, the size of each room is not less than 14 square meters.

For Type 3 and 4 hotels, no entertainment venues will be allowed unless these hotels have more than 80 rooms, are located in entertainment areas, or serve food, alcohol or entertainment only, and have opening hours after midnight.

You can read a full explanation about compliance with the Thai Hotel Act HERE.

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Pattaya

Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours

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Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours | The Thaiger

While the Covid pandemic has hit Thailand’s businesses hard, it has also washed away its not-so-legal soapy massage parlours after tourism has dried up its clientele. Such places, known as glorified brothels, have left many masseuses out of work as boards have barricaded the once booming establishments.

Soapy Massage (àap-òp-nûat, อาบอบนวด, literally bath, steam, massage)…
These are the bigger massage parlours where girls are presented in the fishbowl and you get the full program (including sex) for a fixed price, depending on the girl starting from 1,500 and up to 5,000 Baht.

Only a few of the soapy services have survived the pandemic in Pattaya, with Honey Massage Parlour being one of them, according to The Pattaya Mail. After adjusting to the new requirements for social distancing, the business has re-opened on November 19. However, its largest shop has closed, once known as Honey 1 on Soi Honey, or Soi 11, the windows are dark and barricaded. Honey Inn is also up for sale.

25 year old masseuse Maywadee, says she used to work in such parlours where she would get a cut of the 1,500 to 2,500 baht fee. She says she used to see up to 7 clients a day, but now that number has been cut in half as Chinese and Japanese tourists, who were her largest group of customers have dwindled. Now, she is thinking about heading back to her home city of Chiang Mai, to sell handicrafts, as her Pattaya income has dried up.

Such parlours feature masseuses that are usually not native to the area, as many come from lower socio-economic areas such as Thailands northeastern provinces, otherwise known as Isaan. Many make the trip to tourist-driven cities like Pattaya, Koh Samui, Bangkok and others, in an attempt to make a higher salary than they would if they were back in Isaan.

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

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Business

Bank of Thailand takes action to curb Thai baht’s strength

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Bank of Thailand takes action to curb Thai baht’s strength | The Thaiger

The Bank of Thailand has moved forward measures, originally meant to begin early 2021, but most of which will now take effect from end of this month. The end result is that the new rules will make it easier for Thais to shuffle money overseas and invest in foreign assets. It will also make is easier for Thai citizens to hold foreign currency in local banks. The new rules will also require the registration of local and overseas bond investors.

“Following the U.S. elections and positive news on Covid-19 vaccine development, investors have turned toward investing in emerging markets, including Thailand. The situation has resulted in strengthening the baht quickly and can impact economic recovery.”

“The registration of bond investors will allow close monitoring of investor’s behaviours and thereby enable the implementation of targeted measures in a timely manner.”

Last week the Bank of Thailand assessed that the Thai baht’s recent rapid gains could affect the country’s “fragile” economic recovery. The Thai government has called on the central bank to do its best to use what tools it has at its disposal to restrain the baht to protect exports.

Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ Banking Group, says that he central bank also will continue to resort to direct intervention in foreign-exchange markets.

“The issue here is that local investors have a very strong home bias. Making it easier to invest overseas may not actually encourage them to do so.”

The Thai baht has been the 2nd best performer in Asia this month after foreign investors turned net buyers of almost $2.4 billion of bonds and stocks as appetite returns for riskier emerging-market assets amid a weak dollar, according to Bloomberg.

The Thai baht had recently rallied 8.8% from this year’s low in April, hitting a 10 month high last week.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

This morning, Thai time…

Bank of Thailand takes action to curb Thai baht's strength | News by The Thaiger

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Technology

Hotel investment group launches world’s first “green” hotel fund

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Hotel investment group launches world’s first “green” hotel fund | The Thaiger

Destination Capital, a hotel investment group in Bangkok, has announced that it will launch the world’s first ever “green” hotel fund. The fund will acquire hotels and implement sustainability systems and procedures to promote long term environmental and financial sustainability in investments using the EDGE certification programme. EDGE, an online platform, is an innovation of the International Finance Corporation, which helps property developers to build and brand “green” establishments in a fast and affordable way. EDGE is used by more than 170 countries and reportedly has kept almost 230,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from entering the atmosphere.

DC’s fund, titled Descap I, is part of its efforts to acquire freehold, 4 star hotels in prime destinations all over Thailand. James Kaplan, the CEO of DC, says he sees opportunities to renovate hotels to accommodate “green” technology and systems due to the current Covid pandemic that has ravaged the tourism sector in the kingdom.

“Destination Capital’s adoption of the EDGE certification program will provide the Descap I with the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by differentiating our products and improving carbon emissions of the hotels.”

“If there is one thing we have learned during Covid-19 it is that the environment and nature recover quickly from poor resource management practices. Our participation in EDGE will serve to encourage the hospitality industry to adopt best practices with respect to better managing our scarce resources, raise broader consciousness about global warming and stem the tide of environmental degradation. We will implement operational elements to reduce water consumption, reduce waste emissions, reduce electricity use, and to the best of our ability eliminate plastic usage.”

Descap I, is a Thai Private Equity Trust. The company partners with Private Equity and Institutional Funds to source hotel acquisition opportunities and manage assets in the Asia Pacific region, turning its main focus to Thailand.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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