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Despite the rising temperature of political conflicts, international hotel chains remain confident that Thailand’s tourism industry will bounce back quickly from any damage.
However, they accept that the turmoil has affected high-season hotel reservations this month and next month.
Lothar Pehl, senior vice-president for operations of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Asia Pacific, said Thai tourism will rebound very quickly because the industry is well established and will recover faster than other sectors.
“I’m not too worried about the political situation as long as the demonstrations are peaceful. I’m confident that if domestic politics becomes more stable, the business will come back. I’m positive for next year,” he said.
The first quarter next year may bring cancellations of group bookings.
The withdrawal of travel advisories announced by many countries for their citizens to avoid protest areas in Bangkok will be a key factor in tourism’s recovery.
Nelson Hilton, senior director for marketing of Four Seasons Hotels Thailand, said the first 10 months of this year were the best period for its Bangkok hotel in the last 30 years.
Business has declined since the protests started in October, with the worst impact from this month until March.
“The hotel will miss the 2013 occupancy rate target of 80% due to political unrest. However, I’m confident the business, especially the short-haul market, will be back to normal within two months of the lifting of travel advisories,” Mr Hilton said.
Internal cost savings are being made to sustain business during the sluggish period.
Paul Stevens, director for operations of Accor Thailand, said all its hotels in Bangkok have seen a slowdown in bookings due to the unfavourable political situation.
But the company still sees some markets, such as European long-haul travellers and experienced, independent travellers, sticking with their plans to visit Thailand.
As a hotel company with a strong European base, Accor aims to capitalise on this strength and hopes the situation in Bangkok will improve as soon as possible, Mr Stevens said. ___