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Phuket hotel watch – trends in 2019

Bill Barnett

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Phuket hotel watch – trends 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 five 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 shrunk 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.

Phuket hotel watch - trends in 2019 | News by The Thaiger

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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.

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Business

Thai Airways under pressure to deliver workable business plan

May Taylor

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Thai Airways under pressure to deliver workable business plan | The Thaiger

Thai Airways is coming under more pressure, after being given 30 days to deliver its new rehabilitation and business plans.

Thaworn Senniam, the Deputy Transport Minister, gave the instruction yesterday while meeting with the executive of the national carrier for an update on its financial status.

He says the business plan must provide clear information on how the fortunes of the airline can be turned around, with a focus on making it profitable once more, while improving customer satisfaction.

The order comes after Thai Airways President, Sumeth Damrongchaitham, denied last week that the airline was experiencing a liquidity crunch, claiming it had sufficient cash flow “for present and future operations”.

Minister Thaworn has previously said he does not believe Thai Airways’ existing rehabilitation plan will help it succeed in a turnaround. He has also ordered a monthly progress report on the carrier’s plans to buy new aircraft.

In September, the directors of Thai Airways asked the Executive Board to review a plan to order 38 additional aircraft, worth a total of 156 billion baht.

According to their second-quarter 2019 filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Thai Airways and its subsidiaries reported a net loss of 6.878 billion baht, compared to a loss of 3.086 billion baht over the same period last year.

SOURCE: The Nation

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World Economic Forum says lack of critical thinking in Thailand affecting competitiveness

May Taylor

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World Economic Forum says lack of critical thinking in Thailand affecting competitiveness | The Thaiger

PHOTO: AFP

Thailand’s competitiveness ranking has dropped two places in the Global Competitiveness Index just released by the World Economic Forum (WEC) in Switzerland. The country has dropped from 38 to 40 out of a total of 141 global economies ranked.

The WEC claims that a lack of critical thinking in teaching in Thailand, along with its failure to dominate in any markets, plus its unsafe drinking water, is affecting the country’s competitiveness.

The Nation reports that Singapore has come top in the ranking, overtaking the U.S. and Vietnam has shot up 10 places to 67.

The deputy secretary general to the PM for political affairs, Kobsak Pootrakool, responded to the findings, saying that as other countries improved their rankings, Thailand needed to work harder to ensure their progress didn’t cause it to slip backwards.

“It’s like a running competition – if our pace is slower, others will overtake us, so we have to run faster.”

The dean of the Chulalongkorn Business School, Assistant Professor Wilert Puriwat believes he knows what the country must do to improve competitiveness.

“The survey found that skills among new university graduates have declined, especially in the area of critical thinking. We’ve failed the exam and it can’t be fixed by simply retaking the test – we need to restart learning.”

Assistant Professor Wilert says Thailand needs to change the way students are taught, adding that the country’s score on critical thinking in the classroom was the world’s lowest at 37 out of 100 points. Finland comes first, with 89 points.

Wilert points out that Thai students routinely perform poorly on tests compared to foreign counterparts, which can be blamed on an old-school reliance on rote learning through memorisation.

The WEF is urging Thailand to adapt a model that encourages creative and critical individual thinking in the classroom instead. It also recommends improvements be made in staff training in Thailand, and more fostering of digital skills.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Samsung Electronics flags 56% fall in third quarter profits

The Thaiger

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Samsung Electronics flags 56% fall in third quarter profits | The Thaiger

“Samsung took advantage of the US trade ban against Chinese rival Huawei.”

PHOTO: CNBC

Samsung Electronics says it expects operating profits to drop more than 50% in Q3 amid a continued slump in the global chip market. Operating profits for July to September was expected to reach 7.7 trillion won (US$6.4 billion), down 56.2% from a year earlier – this from the world’s largest maker of smartphones and memory chips.

It marks the fourth consecutive quarter in which the South Korean tech company has recorded a drop in profits in the face of falling semiconductor prices and weakening demand for its mobile devices. Sales for the third quarter were expected to drop 5.3% from the same period last year.

The South Korean tech titan leads the global smartphone market with a 23% share of the sector, trailed by Chinese competitors Huawei and Oppo, with Apple in fourth place, according to sales tracker IHS Markit.

Samsung withholds net profit and sector-by-sector business performance until it releases its final earnings report, which is expected later this month.

The firm is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in the world’s 11th-largest economy, and it is crucial to South Korea’s economic health. Analysts voiced optimism for the coming months, noting that falling inventory levels for semiconductors – which account for more than half of Samsung’s profit – will help stabilise chip prices after double-digit drops this year.

Sujeong Lim, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, said, that in the mobile business, Samsung took advantage of the US trade ban against Chinese rival Huawei, “replacing a strong competitor in crisis” with its mid-to-low tier Galaxy A handsets.

“The new A series has turned out to be an effective weapon to take share from its Android competitors.”

Samsung appealed to high-end users with the launch of its first foldable smartphone last month after faulty screens forced an embarrassing delay in April. The firm also rolled out its flagship Note 10 devices which analysts say have sold far better than its previous models, giving Samsung a much-needed boost in its mobile sales.

The premium smartphone market has grown fiercely competitive and overall sales have cooled as a lack of major innovation has caused people to wait longer before upgrading to new models. Samsung has also been caught up in a trade war between Japan and South Korea stemming from World War II disputes.

The row saw Tokyo impose tough restrictions on exports crucial to South Korean tech giants in July, and Samsung vice chairman Lee Jae-yong – who called the situation a “crisis” – has visited Tokyo to secure materials. Adding to Samsung’s woes, Lee is currently facing retrial over his role in a massive corruption scandal that brought down former president Park Geun-hye.

He was initially jailed for five years in 2017 on multiple convictions including bribery, which was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal, only for the Supreme Court in August to order a retrial.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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