It’s not all bleak and gloom for Thailand’s tourism sector even as Chinese tourist arrivals continue to tumble in the wake of the Phuket boat incident in July.
As it turns out, a slump in Chinese arrivals in recent months is creating a silver lining for some inbound segments, as hoteliers roll out tactical measures and look to other markets to make up for the booking shortfall in 2H2018.
“With Chinese business dropping off since the incident, hotels are throwing out tacticals for the entire winter, which is unusual,” noted Tobias Fischer, director of business development, Go Vacation Thailand, sharing his observations with TTG Asia at the recent ITB Asia in Singapore.
“DMCs are seeing a better chance of getting hotel bookings this period because hotels still have allotments, and we are still able to book rooms at static rates now,” said Fischer.
This is opposed to the usual BAR rates that DMCs are contracted to when hotels are running on high occupancies, particularly during the winter period, he added, with such strategies extending even to the typically high-occupancy months of February and March.
Shreyash Shah, cluster director of sales at Mytt Beach Hotel in Pattaya, is “filling up the vacuum this winter season by pushing for longhaul and regional markets”, including working with DMCs to target group series from South Korea, India and Japan, from where he has registered a “pick up” in bookings.
It would, however, take another six months for the Chinese inbound market to recover, predicted Shah, although he is already seeing “good demand from the Chinese market” for the Lunar New Year period in 2019.
Meanwhile, lagging Chinese demand in recent months has driven Matthew Hindmarch, director of hotels and resorts at Phuket-based Aksara Collection, to show “new markets more love”. These include Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, India and the Middle East.
Hindmarch is “already closing out April next year” with bookings from South Africa, a “bright, cheerful and friendly market” where he sees small groups of lady travellers an emerging trend.
As well, Shah is finding cheer in the Russian market, which is “coming back in a good way”, with Mytt Beach Hotel hosting an average of 10 agent fam trips from across different Russian cities each week.