Although local tourists will be key to a tourism recovery, hoteliers should prepare for a change in foreign tourist behaviour, says Proud Group, a leisure and hospitality development firm.
The group’s director, Proudputh Liptapanlop, said the tourism business in the second half will depend largely on domestic tourists because of outbound travel bans and the stimulus campaign to promote domestic tourism.
With the absence of international tourists, the prices at low-cost airlines will rise in the next 3-6 months, reflecting higher operation costs. The profile of travellers will change from high volume to high spenders, which could benefit Thailand in the long run, Ms Proudputh said.
With fewer tourists, Thailand will have to seek other methods to increase expenditure per person, she said.
As the cost of travel will be higher, tourist behaviour will change. Tourists will plan trips in advance and take longer to make decisions compared with the more spontaneous travel seen earlier, Ms Proudputh said.
“When tourists pre-plan, their expectations from hotels that received advanced bookings will be higher,” she said. “This is not about cheap or expensive, but value for money.”
The uncertainty of Covid-19 will decrease the frequency of inbound flights, with quarantine rules and health certificates making travel more cumbersome, while visa applications and screening at airports will see longer queues, Ms Proudputh said.
“This change will lead to longer stays per visit, as day trips won’t be worth it,” she said.
Proud Group operates three hotels: an InterContinental and a Holiday Inn in Hua Hin and an InterContinental in Phuket.
During the pandemic, the hotels added more frequent cleanings with more steps. The option of in-room breakfast was added and check-outs extended to noon.
The group’s leisure and entertainment business plans to offer private group packages or limited tours.
This all may lead to lower traffic, from a maximum of 3,000 tourists a day to only 300 at the group’s Vana Nava water park in Hua Hin, but it can also build confidence and result in higher spending per person, Ms Proudputh said.
She said chlorine in the water park can kill Covid-19, and the park will provide special wet masks for all tourists.
To practice physical distancing, some group play areas will be smaller, while a queueing system with single file lines will be applied at some zones.