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Hotel bookings starting to recover

The hotel development unit of Thailand’s richest man said room bookings have started to recover from the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The spread of the disease impacted some 60% of the hotel and retail properties in Asset World Corp’s portfolio by deterring tourism and sparking event cancellations, according to its Chief Executive Officer Wallapa Traisorat.

“We’re starting to see a pickup in bookings now,” she said in an interview in Bangkok on Wednesday. “We are hopeful that the government campaign to promote domestic tourism could boost the sector.”

Travel curbs and fear of exposure to the virus led to a slump in the tourism industry, which Thailand relies on for economic growth. Ms Wallapa said footfall in some of Asset World’s malls also declined.

The firm, the Thai property arm of billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, develops hotels, shopping malls and office buildings. It listed on the country’s stock market last year in a 48 billion baht initial public offering.

The company’s biggest hotel and convention property in Bangkok, Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, had less than 50% occupancy this month, according to Ms Wallapa. Shoppers at its flagship retail destination, Asiatique, dropped more than 50%.

Revenue Impact
Other locations weren’t affected at all, such as a hotel in the popular destination of Hua Hin used by domestic tourists. The hotel remained fully booked, she said.

“The impact on revenue from the coronavirus is likely to be short term,” Ms Wallapa said.

Asset World’s shares have declined about 5.1% this year, compared with a 4.7% slide in Thailand’s benchmark SET index.

The kingdom has reported 35 confirmed cases of people infected by the virus that spread from China. Some 17 of those have recovered.

Chinese visitors are the biggest source of spending in the Thai tourism sector, and their absence has put the economy on course for less than 1% expansion in January through March from a year earlier.

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