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Rates to rise for first time in four years

Thai hoteliers plan to raise their room rates by 8-10% next year, the first time in four years, to offset rising costs as more perceived local political stability is making tourists more confident, says the Thai Hotels Association (THA).

Normally hotel room rates go up around 5-10% on average per year, but political turmoil from 2008 to 2010 caused Thai hoteliers to freeze their room rates to survive.

However tourism has picked up this year, leading THA to be confident that overall room rates would start increasing next year, said THA president Prakit Chinamournphong.

In the first seven months of this year, international tourist arrivals to Thailand rose by 27% year-on-year to 12.8 million. Key markets were China, which grew by 68% to 1.15 million, Russia was up 78% to 619,723, India was up 34% to 627,670, South Korea grew 40% to 720,510, and Taiwan by 41% to 346,548.

For the year to date, the THA reported the occupancy rate of hotels in Bangkok was 62%, up from 52% in the same period last year, Phuket was at 70%, up from 59%, and Chiang Mai stayed at 40%.

The association projects the average occupancy rate in Chiang Mai for the year will reach 50%, thanks to the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Fair to be held from Nov 9 to Feb 15.

Mr Prakit projected international tourist arrivals to Thailand would reach 19 million on revenue of 700 billion baht this year.

“This shows that Thai tourism is clearly improving. So it’s a good time for us to increase the room rate,” he said.

Room rates can be raised without affecting the country’s competitiveness against main rivals like Singapore and Malaysia because Thai rates will still be cheaper. However, the move requires cooperation from hoteliers to sell their accommodation at the increased rates, especially during World Travel Mart 2011 in London later this year, he said.

The THA will ask the Tourism Authority of Thailand to convey the message to operators to convince them to raise room rates across the board, preventing confusion among customers.

The Food & Hotel Thailand 2011 expo, which opened yesterday and runs to Friday at Royal Paragon Hall, has healthy attendance because participants are more confident about visiting Thailand.

Patrapee Chinachoti, chairman of Bangkok Exhibition Services, the event organiser, said 30,000 buyers, both local and international, would visit the event from 60 countries, up from 25,000 in 2010. Trading volume during the four-day event is forecast to increase by 30% to 300 million baht this year.

Source: Bangkok Post

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