World News

Thailand Lures Luxury Tourists with 5-star Covid-19 Quarantine

Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Mae Nam – Updated 2020 Prices

Many luxury hotels are opening in Thailand due to the government’s plan of luring rich tourists seeking five-star COVID-19 quarantine, betting that the high spending tourists will help recover from the devastation that was brought upon the travel industry after the quarantine.

About half-a-dozen luxury hotels that are opening or opening soon in Bangkok during the pandemic, from Four Seasons, Kempinski and Capella, are going to profit from a new visa aiming to attract wealthy long-stay visitors, medical travelers to put their economy back on track.

Thailand has endured the virus outbreak better than most Southeast Asian countries, but it faced one of the worst slumps on the record because of the loss of tourists, which pumped $62 billion into the economy in 2019.

They are targeting affluent travelers who will stay longer and spend a lot and this will help them to retrieve some of those losses. Deepak Ohri, chief executive officer of Lebua Hotels & Resorts states in an interview, “The pandemic has given Thailand the opportunity to hit reset on how the tourism industry will look after Covid-19.” 

From now on, tourists will be allowed into Thailand with a new visa for the first time since borders closed in late March. 

Tourists will be expected to stay at least 90 days, including a compulsory 14-day quarantine, which can be completed in a luxury hotel. After that, they will be free to travel anywhere they want.

“These groups of travelers have the highest potential of increasing money spent on lodging and dining, which can help boost the economy, especially during these difficult pandemic times,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. “We have about 800 to 1,000 Chinese tourists who are ready to travel here on private jets in the first phase of reopening.”

The government is expecting to have about 1,200 visitors a month to use the new visa which will generate about 1.2 billion baht ($38 million) in revenue which is just a fraction of the amount what mass-market holidaymakers spent. Most Thais don’t agree with the plan to open the borders due to the dangers it brings to their health as Covid might start increasing again.

“It’s a good starting initiative to focus on quality instead of quantity, but it won’t be enough to make up for the lost revenue,” said Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist at Bank of Ayudhya PCL. “Tax measures aimed at middle- to high-income Thais to promote spending would help inject more money into the economy.”

Several luxury hotels have entered the market since the pandemic began, The most recent luxury hotel is Capella Hotel which opened on October 1. Before Covid-19, the hotel was expecting up to 90% of profit to come from foreign travelers. Now the Four Seasons is set to open by year-end, following other high-end hotels such as the Rosewood and the Siam Kempinski Sindhorn.

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