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Pattaya hoteliers complain about alleged “quarantine kickbacks”

Jack Burton

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Pattaya hoteliers complain about alleged “quarantine kickbacks” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Returnees face mandatory state quarantine - National News Bureau of Thailand
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Hoteliers in Pattaya have made an official complaint about a group of people, claiming to be officials who can ensure their properties will be chosen as quarantine centres, are demanding kickbacks of up to 40%. They are urging the government to look into the issue, but officials have been quick to deny any involvement by legitimate authorities.

Government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said yesterday that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into the allegations. He has promised to take tough action against anyone “taking advantage of people and business operators during this difficult time.”

The assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration also said yesterday that the centre has never sent anyone to coordinate or demand “change” for turning a place into a state quarantine facility.

On Friday Manager Online reported that a “number of people” have been approaching hotel operators in the resort town, offering to ensure their properties are chosen for state quarantine if they pay them up to 40% of what they receive from the government.

The government will pay participating hotels 1,000 baht per person per day for hosting people during their mandatory 14 day quarantine periods. Around 80,000 Thai nationals who have returned from abroad have been placed in quarantine facilities nationwide as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19, some of them hotels..

State agencies choose quarantine sites based on a set of criteria that include hotel licences, a capacity of more than 200 non-carpeted rooms and separate air conditioners for each room. There are several hotels that meet the criteria in Pattaya, where about 10,000 rooms have already been used for the purpose. Since all hotels have been temporarily closed by government order, operators are eager to make any kind of deal that could earn them some money.

But the acting president of the Chon Buri chapter of the Tourism Council of Thailand says a number of hoteliers in Pattaya are reluctant to pursue the deal.

“Although they will be paid 1,000 baht per person per day for 14 days, costs of meals are included, not to mention staff and utility costs. Besides, accepting the deal will disqualify their employees from social security benefits.”

He was referring to compensation their employees would receive from the Social Security Fund, which would end if they are re-employed, even for 14 days. The chapter sent a list of 20 hotels willing to turn their facilities into state quarantine centres, but they have not been inspected by authorities.

“Importantly, a group of people claiming to come from unidentified state agencies have approached us, saying they could make our hotels state quarantine places and we would get 1,000 baht per person per day. The catch? We’ll have to pay them an ‘operation fee’ of 40%.”

The chairman of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association confirmed the kickback demand at rates between 30% and 40%.

“Even if a hotel does not meet the criteria, these people promised they could coordinate to make it happen. So it’s possible this is teamwork.”

A PBTA adviser confirmed several operators of large and mid-sized hotels had been approached but most had turned down the offer as they viewed it was not worth it to reopen their hotels.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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1 Comment

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  1. Avatar

    Terry Rasmussen

    Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 7:33 am

    I love to go walking up around the Big Budda circuit and Royal Cliffs, but one thing gets me these are lovely settings but for heavens sake how about some dam TOILETS every so often or dont the people here go.?

    I noticed down the beach road from Sands Cafe to Jomtien TOILETs are half way down BUT are closed due to Corona Virus ; So the Virus just shuts down our outlet systems ???? ?.

    Common fellows dont sit in your office with the toilet 20 foot away, very convienent for you.

    This is not convienent for thousands of people who use the parks and walkways.

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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.

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Future of Thai department stores is being redefined

The Thaiger

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Future of Thai department stores is being redefined | The Thaiger

While department stores have been a familiar destination for Thai people for many decades, CBRE, an international property consultant, is witnessing a decline in popularity and stunted growth, particularly in 2020 when Covid-19 adversely impacted the sector. CBRE believes that to adapt to e-commerce disruption and the changing consumer behaviour, department stores in 2021 (and beyond) will have to fine-tune their business model in terms of customer shopping experience, inventive activities and value-added programmes to continue their status as the second home for Thai shoppers.

Jariya Thumtrongkitkul, Head of Advisory and Transaction Services – Retail, CBRE Thailand explained… “While department stores offer shoppers convenience, saving them time with many varieties of goods grouped in different departments and allowing the shoppers to find and compare products and choose what they want, the traditional department store model does not fit the needs, lifestyle and behaviour of its shoppers anymore, especially the new generations.”

According to CBRE Research, the total retail supply in Bangkok as of Q4 2020 increased to 7.8 million square metres, a 1.16% increase year-on-year. Out of this, only approximately 3% was reported within the department store format. The department store market in Thailand is mainly dominated by two domestic retail giants, with Central Group and The Mall Group holding the largest market shares. They do not only concentrate in Bangkok, but have also opened department stores in many major cities throughout the country which allowed them to build bigger networks and grow their customer base.

In the past few decades, Japanese investors had also shown interest in entering the Thai market and offered local features that are well-known in Japanese department stores: simplicity, premium quality and services. However, with strong competition many Japanese department store operators have ceased their expansion plans. Some have exited the country due to the fierce competition against the local players, their performance in Thailand and the shrinking Japanese department store business, especially in overseas countries.

“The department store concept as a one stop shopping place is still in demand for certain groups of customers. However, with the e-commerce disruption and changing consumer behaviour, department store operators need to adapt their models, offerings and value-added services to their customers to cope with the challenging economic and market conditions.”

Adaptability of department stores can be highlighted into 3 main parts: customer shopping experience, inventive sales and marketing activities, and value-added programmes. While more and more younger generations prefer to shop online to save time and money, the brick-and-mortar store is still believed to be the second home for Thai shoppers. Department stores should be more agile in the era of e-commerce and adopt some technological innovations such as in-store automation and mobile payment solutions to reach the younger crowds.

Design is another aspect that plays an important part in customer shopping experience. Department stores can be more creative in remodelling traditional department store space into some ingenious and interactive space with a great design and right product portfolio mix for their customers.

The Mall Group, for example, has launched its first “Lifestore” concept at The Mall Ngamwongwan at the end of 2020 by redesigning and renovating its traditional department store space to enhance customer shopping experience and enjoyment.

The second part to be considered for the adaptability comprises inventive activities related to sales and marketing. The prices of products being sold in a department store are normally set high to cover the higher establishment and operating costs by operators, narrowing their target to only upper- to high-income customers.

Brand offerings may also no longer meet fast-changing customer needs since today’s shoppers have more choices in buying products online, not to mention the declining footfall due to the growth of e-commerce. CBRE Research has seen domestic players pushing hard to drive sales growth via numerous promotions, marketing campaigns and activities and collaboration with credit card companies during seasonal sales.

The third part consists of value-added programmes such as personal shopper, customer loyalty programme, on-demand solution and service personalisation, which have become a new trend as customers, including the aging population, are now more sophisticated and demanding.

The retail landscape has changed drastically in the past few years from various factors like technological advancement, consumer behaviour and preference as well as Covid-19. Cookie-cutter strategy will be a thing of the past, especially for department stores where the format and offerings have remained the same for decades.

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Can Phuket survive? Interview with Bill Barnett | VIDEO

Bill Barnett

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Can Phuket survive? Interview with Bill Barnett | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Interview with Bill Barnett from c9Hotelworks. Phuket has now been hit with a 3rd major crisis, each one more profound than the long-term effects from the 2004 tsunami. Now the island has new restrictions imposed on arrivals on the southern island, imposed by the Phuket Provincial Authority.

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US jobs market stumbles back into decline

The Thaiger

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US jobs market stumbles back into decline | The Thaiger

The labour market for the world’s largest economy is heading back into reverse mode after slowly chugging back into gear over the past 8 months, following the March stock crash and initial impacts of the US state lockdown measures.. The December report was the first drop since April figures, providing the strongest evidence of the impact of the huge number of Covid-19 infections weighing on the economy.

“Nonfarm payrolls” in the US fell by 140,000 in December, the data published by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics showed yesterday. This reading follows November’s increase of 336,000 (revised from 245,000) and missed the market expectation of +71,000 by a wide margin.

Further details of the publication revealed that the Unemployment Rate stayed unchanged at 6.7% and the Average Hourly Earnings rose by 0.8% on a monthly basis.

“Nonfarm payroll employment is a compiled name for goods, construction and manufacturing companies in the US. It does not include farm workers, private household employees, or non-profit organisation employees.”

The weakness in the US jobs market largely reflects job cuts at restaurants and hospitality venues impacted by revised restrictions.

The President-elect will inherit an economy that’s down almost 10 million jobs compared with before the pandemic. The pace of hiring will be hard-pressed to accelerate until a meaningful portion of the general population is vaccinated, with distribution in the US running slower than planned and potentially holding back the recovery.

Other parts of the US labour market held up in last month’s figures. Retail, professional and business services, construction and manufacturing all posted job gains, indicating much of the economy continues to stagger back to economic health. The number of unemployed Americans who permanently lost a job declined to a four-month low of 3.37 million.

Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays says parts of the US economy continue to show some resilience.

“Outside of consumer-facing sectors the remainder of the economy continues to show resilience. It does show that if we can get control of the pandemic, then we can restore economic activity and labor market conditions over the course of this year. It’s a pandemic-driven number, a pandemic-driven composition.”

“The pace of hiring will be hard-pressed to accelerate until a meaningful portion of the general population is vaccinated, with distribution in the US running slower than planned and potentially holding back the recovery.”

A new viral strain of Covid-19, that led to new or extended lockdowns in the UK and Germany, has now been identified in the US, which risks spurring more restrictions that could hinder hirings over the coming months.

In December, there was an average of 1.5 million new cases per week in the US and Covid-related deaths continued to rise at a record pace, forcing some states to ramp up business restrictions leading to an uptick in layoffs.

Private-sector payrolls, excluding government jobs, decreased by 95,000 last month following a 417,000 gain in November.

SOURCE: Bloomberg | USA Today

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