Hotels nervous over decree

The caretaker government's emergency decree has not significantly affected tourism businesses in resort destinations, but hoteliers are worried the overall industry could be hit hard if the government insists on keeping the state of emergency for 60 days as planned.

Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, the senior vice-president for finance and administration at Central Plaza Hotel Plc (Centel), the parent company of Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the company believes if the government is determined to maintain the decree that long, other countries may escalate their travel advisories for Bangkok and the country as a whole.

Mr Ronnachit told the Bangkok Post he received many calls from tourism investors on Wednesday, when the decree was announced.

Many of them have come to Bangkok and seen that the rallies were peaceful, unlike what has been reported in the international media, he said.

"If the decree remains beyond March, bookings for meeting rooms postponed from January and February may be cancelled. This is what we're worried about," said Mr Ronnachit.

He said the decree may have already influenced tourists planning to visit Thailand, as travel insurance normally does not cover damage caused by riots if a country is in a state of emergency.

The rallies have been largely peaceful so far, but the imposition of the decree may instigate violence, said Mr Ronnachit.

As of last Friday, Centel reported average occupancy of 90% for its hotels in Phuket and 80% in Pattaya, Hua Hin and Koh Samui.

Forward bookings for Chinese New Year for its hotels in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin reached 80-90%.

From Jan 1-24, Dusit International reported occupancy of 43% for its hotels in Bangkok, 83% in Pattaya, 69% in Hua Hin, 94% in Phuket and 91% in Chiang Mai.

Sukanya Janchoo, the general manager of the Dusit D2 Chiang Mai, agreed the emergency decree has affected hotels in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. Cancellations began on Friday.

Some countries and territories such as Hong Kong and Taiwan have even started warning their citizens against travelling to Thailand.

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