Surapong re-elected THA chief

Surapong Techaruvichit, the managing director of Asia Hotel Plc, on Friday was re-elected to a second term as president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA).

He vowed to continue his main policies of tackling problems with illegal hotels and aggressive online business development to catch up with global changes.

"We'll move forward with pursuing our policies after the formation of the new government," Mr Surapong said.

During his first two-year term, Mr Surapong asked organisations to help solve the illegal hotel issue but it was very slow especially during the tenure of the caretaker government.

Meanwhile, the hotel booking trend has dramatically changed. Tourists now usually book online. The association will focus developing an online platform to serve demand.

Next Monday, the THA will meet the National Science and Technology Development Agency to discuss the development of a business-to-business website to be another sales channel for member hotels.

Mr Surapong also plans to discuss strengthening the role of Thailand in the Asean Tourism Association (Aseanta) with the Association of Thai Travel Agents and Thai Airways International.

The THA will encourage member countries jointly to organise training and conduct marketing campaigns to promote Asean tourism.

Mr Surapong said Thailand has actively attended meetings but has not pushed any initiatives.

"It's time to take some action. Thailand should have a leadership role at the Aseanta because we are one of the tourism leaders in the region," he added.

The political stalemate has hit the hotel business. During the past two months, occupancy rates of hotels near demonstration sites in Bangkok were only 20% on average, while other hotels far from the protests saw average occupancy of 40-60%. Meanwhile, suburban hotels in Bangkok have barely been affected.

The government has already lifted the state of emergency, but it will take 15-30 days or more for hotel occupancy to pick up, while a noticeable recovery will take up to three months.

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