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Thailand’s PM Pushes for Six-Nation Visa for Southeast Asia

Alan Woinski

April 9th, 2024

Skift Take

Thailand’s Prime Minister proposes a six-nation visa to enhance regional tourism, potentially extending visa validity to 90 days, with a target of 80 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2027.

Thailand’s new Prime Minister is leading a push to establish a revolutionary six-nation visa concept that would allow international tourists the ability to travel seamlessly between Thailand and the fellow Southeast Asian nations of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam. A six-nation visa is seen as a means of making the region more attractive to international long-haul travelers and would likely see the visa validity period extended from the traditional 30-day period adopted in many countries to a longer 90-day period. The six nations in question welcomed a combined 70 million tourists in 2023 but Thailand is targeting 80 million foreign tourist arrivals to its shores alone by 2027.

In the first quarter of 2024, China was the top contributor to Singapore’s visitor arrivals, with 723,900 entries. The tally was up 481% year on year and was at 75.4% of 2019’s pre-pandemic first quarter. The Singapore Tourism Board said the Chinese visitors made up 19% of Singapore’s total of 3.78 million overseas arrivals for the first three months of the year. Total foreign arrivals to Singapore were up 29.7% year on year. The Chinese lead in arrivals coincided with the mutual arrangement for 30-day visa-free travel between the two countries, going into effect February 9.

The four-day period encompassing the Ching Ming Festival resulted in 425,428 tourist arrivals for Macau. The most were on the actual day of the Festival, on April 4th, with 136,363 visitor arrivals. These four days actually had more arrivals than the four-day Easter holiday.

Nepal registered a record-breaking influx of 128,167 tourists in March, a 28.9% increase from March of 2023. The tourist season in Nepal typically starts in February, peaks in March and April, and then gradually decreases. 30,698 tourists arrived from India in March with 12,092 coming from China.

The 99 room The Opposite House in Beijing is being closed after 16 years by owner Swire Properties. This was Swire’s first hotel but they are closing it to make way for an innovative retail landmark in the Taikoo Li Sanlitun area. The hotel had been losing money for Swire since 2015. The hotel will cease operations on June 30.

TFE Hotels has put their stamp on Docklands with the rebranding of the 273 room Vibe Hotel Melbourne Docklands from the Four Points by Sheraton brand. The opening of this harbourside property gives TFE their twelfth Vibe branded hotel and second in Melbourne City in Australia. The hotel is owned by MA Financial Group. MA is hoping this will help them seed the launch of their MA Accommodation Hotel Fund, an open-ended fund for wholesale investors targeting high quality assets. TFE said they will soon announce new pipeline hotels as they celebrate their twenty-first year of operations. Sister property Vibe Hotel Melbourne is launching a rooftop venue on April 12. The Vibe Hotel Melbourne Docklands will give TFE an additional seven meeting rooms in their Melbourne portfolio.

Asset World Corp Public Company Limited has signed two hotel management agreements with Melia Hotels International to develop two hotels in Pattaya in Thailand under the Melia and Paradisus brands. The Melia Pattaya City and Paradisus Jomtien Resort will mark the first time these luxury brands are in Pattaya. The partnership expands AWC’s diverse high-end hospitality and lifestyle portfolio. The Melia Pattaya City will be located within AWC’s mega mixed-use Aquatique while Paradisus Jomtien Resort will be one of the first luxury all-inclusive hotels. AWC and Melia already have three operational hotels in Thailand under their initial collaboration. The two new hotels under the new agreement will bring the total number of properties open and under development to six. Melia Pattaya City is expected to open this coming December with 234 rooms, unique F&B establishments, aiming to attract MICE groups and individuals seeking a youthful and hip lifestyle. The hotel will offer a Social Space Club Lounge, indoor fireplace features, cinema room, Jomtien Beach pool, co-working lounge, meeting rooms and ballrooms, and a yard party area. The Paradisus Jomtien Resort, scheduled to open in 2028, will be the first all inclusive luxury hotel in Pattaya, located on a prominent beachfront site in Jomtien. The resort will feature a variety of water sports and recreational activities, including a continuous loop pool, family pool zone, beach club, a rooftop entertainment zone with DJ, sunset view, rooftop tennis and a football court. The hotel will offer 698 rooms, including 654 hotel rooms and 44 villa rooms.

The Hindu reported Blackstone Inc. is looking at investing in the hospitality sector in India, already evaluating two hotels in the southern part of the country with potential buys in the range of Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore. Sources said Blackstone feels valuations are high but they are still looking and an acquisition is likely this year.

Hilton announced the signing of its flagship brand hotel in Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. Hilton Lucknow will be their third property in Uttar Pradesh, expanding their portfolio in India. This hotel will be developed in partnership with Amrit Bottlers Private Limited and will be part of a cluster complex that includes Hilton Garden Inn Lucknow which Hilton already manages for Amrit. Hilton Lucknow is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2025 with 140 guest rooms, event spaces of 17,000 square feet and three food and beverage establishments. Hilton has 26 trading hotels in India and 19 more in the pipeline, putting them on course to triple their India estate to 75 trading and pipeline hotels in the coming years.

ITC Hotels said they have an ambitious goal of expanding their portfolio to 200 hotels from the current 130 over the next five years by opening properties across its brands to capitalize on a boom in business and leisure travel in India. Their inventory is expected to increase to more than 18,000 keys in five years from the current 12,000. Their international launch will be later this month with the 352 key ITC Ratnadipa in Colombo. The ultra-luxury hotel in Sri Lanka will feature rooms, suites and serviced apartments and more than 1,390 square meters of banqueting space. It will have a dozen dining options and include the chain’s Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa. In the past two years, ITC Hotels has launched 25 hotels pan India.

Alan Woinski

April 9th, 2024

Companies: Asset World Public Company Limited, Blackstone, Four Points by Sheraton, Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, ITC Hotels, Melia Hotels & Resorts, Paradisus by Melia, Swire Hotels, TFE Hotels

Locations: Beijing, Cambodia, Colombo, India, Laos, Lucknow, Macau, Melbourne, Myanmar, Nepal, Pattaya, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

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