American hotels still entering competitive Thai market

American hotel chains are among those still investing and expanding in the Thailand market despite oversupply in some areas as they bank on continued strong growth in Thailand’s tourism sector, executives in the Thai hospitality sector said last week.

In addition, five airlines said last week they are adding routes and flights between Thailand and international destinations to service the steadily increasing demand of travelers wanting to visit the Kingdom.

Tourism is a key sector of the Thai economy, contributing roughly 10 percent to gross domestic product by many estimates. Some analysts have been cautioning for several years that the sector is becoming saturated and opportunities for growth will diminish, but the number of tourists visiting the Kingdom has increased virtually every year and there is no sign of any imminent decline. Tourism remains one of the healthiest sectors of the Thai economy.

Joining American hoteliers in expanding in the Thai market are Singaporean and Japanese firms, said, Wutthiphon Taworntawat, managing director of Urban Hospitality Group, a local hotel developer. “Hotels under construction in the Sukhumvit area include the Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Ibis and Mercure, Singapore’s Carlton group and Japanese hotel Solaria Nishitetsu,” he said.

Marriott International announced in July that it plans to open 17 hotels in Thailand during the next four years. The rise of Thailand as a meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) destination is the reason the chain is bullish on Thailand, Marriott executives said at the time.

Marriott partners with local groups in some of its properties, such as the Minor Group run by American-born entrepreneur William Heinecke, and TCC Land owned by Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.

Global real estate analysis and management group Jones Lang LaSalle reported recently that direct investment in Thailand’s hotel sector hit $322 million in the first half of 2017, compared to $289 million in all of 2016.

Chachet Hospitality Group of the United States is also investing in Thailand as part of its Asia-Pacific expansion. Among its projects are a 63-room hotel on Petchaburi Road in Bangkok and a 138-room property on the island resort of Phuket.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways, Thai AirAsia, Jetstar Asia, Turkish Airlines and EVA Air all announced they were adding routes or flights to Thailand from locations such as Doha, Istanbul and the Maldives.

“Thailand has long been the key portal to Asia and a global aviation hub. Steady passenger growth depends on more flights and finding new entry points to the country. These new flights provide visitors with more choice, flexibility and convenience. We hope that the expanded air access boosts tourism arrivals,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.