Protest hot spot rises from slump

Hotels in Bangkok's Ratchaprasong intersection, the favoured area for protesters, sees rising business momentum in the second half of the year thanks to aggressive marketing events to restore tourist confidence.

Recent marketing activities such as the Living Arts Festival Ratchaprasong from May 1-31 and the Thailand Happiness Street Festival on July 25-26 helped boost the positive sentiment in the heart of Bangkok after suffering a slump caused by protests since the fourth quarter of last year.

Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, senior vice-president for finance and administration at Central Plaza Hotel Plc (Centel), said the average occupancy rate of Centara Grand at CentralWorld is expected to pick up to 60% this month.

Centel reported an average occupancy rate for its Bangkok hotels of 48% in the first quarter, rising to 50% in the second quarter. It hopes the easing political situation will help bring back tourists to raise the occupancy rate for its Bangkok hotels to 70% in the second half.

The company expects the average occupancy rate of its hotels in the capital for the whole year to stay at 70%, compared with 80% last year.

Mr Ronnachit said hotel revenue will be on par with the 2013 figure at around 8 billion baht, down from an earlier growth projection of 10-15%.

Vincent Hoogewijs, regional vice-president and general manager of the Four Seasons Bangkok Hotel, said the hotel's performance in the third quarter is expected to be weaker than last year, but the company projects business in the last quarter will return to normal.

He said four Thai properties under the Four Seasons umbrella are expected to see positive signs in 2015, including in Bangkok.

But Mr Hoogewijs said the dip in the US and European economies could lower the number of tourists from those markets and cut their spending power.

Minor International Plc, the owner of the Four Seasons Bangkok Hotel, said revenue per available room at its hotels in Bangkok fell by 40% to 2,280 baht in the first quarter, while average occupancy was 47%, down from 80% in the same period last year.

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