Hotel occupancy has slipped this year in Thailand despite lower room rates than rival Singapore and Hong Kong.
For Phuket hotel occupancy has declined just a little bit (80% to 70%) but for Chiang Mai quite a lot (70% to 50%).
Singapore and Hong Kong have not experienced similar declines which leads some to believe that most of the decline is due to Thailand's never-ending political problems.
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TOURISM: Thailand loses out to Singapore, HK by Chadamas Chinmaneevong
Thailand's tourism industry is losing its competitiveness to Hong Kong and Singapore even though the country's products and accommodation prices are cheaper.
''Thai tourism has not recovered from the global economic crisis that started in late 2008 and also domestic political uncertainty,'' said Prakit Chinamourphong, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA).
''Foreign tourists are not returning yet, so tourism operators must focus more on the domestic market instead. They're pinning their hopes on the coming high season, but reservations are not as high as they expected.''
To make matters worse, the recent floods in many areas of the country have affected domestic tourism, especially during the October school break.
Mr Prakit said average hotel occupancy this year should be about 60%, similar to last year. However, average room rates in Thailand are much lower than in Hong Kong or Singapore.
''The flood impact will be short-lived. It's the local political uncertainty that will remain the biggest threat for the tourism industry, as we don't know how long the state of emergency will go on in many locations,'' he said.
''We're going down while other rivals such as Singapore and Hong Kong are going up.''
The average room rate for a five-star hotel in Thailand is only about US$133 (3,900 baht) per night, compared with $200 in Hong Kong and Singapore. But occupancy is averaging about 70% in Singapore and 75% in Hong Kong, according to a THA report.
''Thailand has received so many tourism awards. It's very sad how it's turned out. We offer a better product, but Thais have damaged their country themselves,'' said Mr Prakit.
The association reported that reservations in the most popular destination, Phuket, for this month and next month stood at about 70% of available rooms, down from the norm of 80-85% for the period.
For the same peak season in Chiang Mai, bookings are now at only 50%, down from 70-80% in the past.
The private sector projects international tourist arrivals at 13 million this year, while the Tourism Authority of Thailand remains confident the country will achieve its target of 14.5 million tourists bringing in revenue of 500 billion baht.
Charoen Wangananon, spokesman for the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations, said that foreign tourist arrivals in Thailand this year could have been as high as 18-20 million by now, with revenue of one trillion baht, if the country had not been beset by so many negative factors in recent years.
''Thai tourism has remained stagnant since 2008,'' he said. ''We really want to see the situation improve next year and hope to see smiles on the faces of tourism operators once again.''
(Source: TOURISM, Thailand loses out to Singapore, HK, 8/11/2010, Chadamas Chinmaneevong, link)
competitiveness - how well a business can do compared to other firms (does it have lower price or higher quality?) การแข่งขัน
accommodation - hotel room, a place to stay while you are traveling
recovered - get better again, regain health and normal condition ฟื้นฟู
global - throughout the world ทั่วโลก
crisis - an urgent, difficult or dangerous situation วิกฤต
domestic - within the country ในประเทศ
political uncertainty - when people do not know what is going to happen next in the political situation
operators - businesses doing a certain kind of business
focus - think about and work on one thing (rather than waste time on many), concentrate time and attention on one thing
pinning their hopes on Y - hoping and wishing that event or situation Y happens (because they feel they will benefit from this)
high season - the period of time during the year when there are the most tourists (and tourism businesses make the most money)
reservation - making an arrangement for a hotel room, table at a restaurant, seat in theatre, etc before the time that you arrive การจอง
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
To make matters worse, ... Y - Y creates a bad situation (worse than the current situation)
matters - affairs, a situation that you must deal with that has problems
occupancy - when a business or individual uses real estate (for a fixed period of time) a vacancy
impact - an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
local - in this country
threat - a danger อันตราย
state - condition สภาพ
emergency - an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary เหตุฉุกเฉิน
state of emergency - "a governmental declaration that may suspend certain normal functions of government, alert citizens to alter their normal behaviors, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale for suspending civil liberties. Such declarations usually come during a time of natural disaster, during periods of civil disorder, or following a declaration of war (in democratic countries, many call this martial law, mostly with non-critical intent)." (See Wikipedia)
rivals - opponents; people you are fighting or competing against, people you are competing with to achieve something that not everyone can have (like getting elected) คู่แข่ง, คู่อริ
room rate - the price of a hotel room (per day, week or month)
destination - the place where someone or something is going จุดหมายปลายทาง, ปลายทาง the place that someone is going to
norm - a situation or behavior that is expected and considered to be typical มาตรฐาน
peak - highest level
peak season - the time when something is at its highest or greatest level ช่วงเวลาที่พบมากที่สุด
sector - a part of the economy ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) (See Wikipedia)
private sector - all the businesses in an economy
international - between countries ระหว่างประเทศ
confident - being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future มั่นใจ
remains confident - still believes that it is true (has not changed)
target - a goal, the amount you are planning to achieve เป้าหมาย
revenue - income from taxes or business activities รายได้
beset - to experience difficult or danger over a period of time รุมเร้าด้วยปัญหา
negative - bad ที่เป็นด้านลบ
factors - one of the things that effects a situation or event ปัจจัย
stagnant - not moving, numbers are not increasing (example: mosquitoes breeded in the stagnant water, business was stagnant and no one was making any money)
improve - to get better ดีขึ้น
tourism operators - people who own and run tourism businesses