Pandemic battered Thai hotels turn to food to cope with $2.5 bil. loss
By Valaiporn Chalermlapvoraboon
BANGKOK, NNA - Thailand hotels are so badly battered in the tourism fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that they are expected to lose 79 billion baht ($2.4 billion) in earnings in 2020, according to Krungthai Bank report.
And this is only a small fraction of the estimated 410 billion baht loss in tourism receipts this year, according to Kasikorn Research Center (K-Research) which sliced down the kingdom's economic growth from 2.7 percent to a negative figure of 0.5 percent in a forecast last month.
According to K-Research, tourism contributed more than 21 percent to the GDP as of 2018, but arrivals by foreign tourists fell by 20.8 percent this year if the virus outbreak is contained by the second quarter.
According to the research center, Thai airlines are expected to incur a 4.3 to 6.3 percent revenue loss amounting to 8 billion to 11 billion baht in the first quarter of 2020 following numerous flight cancellations and decrease in the number of passengers.
In the midst of the gloom, hospitality players in the tourism-dependent country have resorted to soften the coronavirus impact by focusing on delivered food and catering services and promoting hotel rooms as workplaces.
Although the capital city of Bangkok, a top tourist haven, has seen the disappearance of tens of visitors, many hotels are promoting food delivery to residents working from home as a way to earn a new stream of income, and hopefully, reduce their losses.
They include big chains such as Centara Hotels and Resorts, Dusit International and Chatrium Hotel and Residences.
Throwing its weight behind hotel efforts is the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), which is taking an optimistic long-term view.
“TAT is supporting hotel businesses to help increase the cash flow and support employment, as well as promoting hotels to the public for their future visits once this crisis has passed,” said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
Nine Bangkok hotels including Royal Orchid Sheraton, Montien Riverside, The Heritage Bangkok and Narai have collaborated with TAT and Get food delivery service to promote their signature dishes from April 16.
Before the global pandemic struck, Thai Airways International and its affiliates had already suffered a loss of 12 billion baht last year, which is 448 million baht more than the previous year. This is due to the global slump, strength of the Thai baht, price wars with other airlines and the U.S.-China trade spat.
The carrier is now drumming up sales for its food products and dishes on home ground under the Puff & Pie brand and Thai Catering services as an extra revenue source.
Meanwhile, Thai Airways and Thai AirAsia had suspended domestic and international flights from March 25. Bangkok Airways had cancelled all domestic and international flights since April 7.
As of April 22, Thailand has reported 15 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,826. So far, 49 people have died.
The country is still under a shutdown of most activities and a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.