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EEC interest stirring up Pattaya hotels

Accommodation options are improving, writes Suchat Sritama

Hotels and condominiums surround Pattaya beach. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

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The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) is helping hotels and tourism in Pattaya and adjacent areas as the industrial zone prompts further development throughout the Eastern Seaboard, featuring mixed industrial sites and resorts.

The EEC spans over 30,000 rai in Rayong, Chon Buri and Chacheongsao provinces.

In Chon Buri there are 1,046 accommodation establishments with a total 81,607 rooms. The properties include both registered and unregistered properties.

Many more hotels are undergoing development and are scheduled to open doors through 2024, said Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, a hospitality and property consultancy.

At least 11 properties or 2,645 rooms are expected to enter the greater Pattaya market over the next five years. They include Citadines Jomtien Beach, Amari Pattaya Ocean Suites, Grand Centre Point, Four Points by Sheraton, Citadines North Pattaya, Ozo Pattaya, Holiday Inn Express, U Hotel, Cosi Hotel by Centara Naklua and Somerset.

This new supply will not be absorbed in the short-to-medium period, which is likely to create rate issues in the economy and mid-scale tiers, until EEC development becomes more pronounced.

Chon Buri province tallied more than 16 million hotel guests last year and there is little doubt Greater Pattaya moves to a broader tourism platform, he said.

"Pattaya's hotel performance is rebounding as the EEC impact drives positive market sentiment," Mr Barnett said.

He said domestic tourism growth in Pattaya has strengthened on China and Russia, the main sources for hotel and tourism businesses in Thailand's second-largest tourism market.

Pattaya's performance has pushed through the 2014 slump, with the hotel sector showing strong signs of rising stability.

In addition, strong demand from the Thai domestic sector accounts for 38% of hotel guests at Chon Buri's accommodation establishments.

Neoh Kean Moon, general manager of Dusit Thani Pattaya, said the hotel and tourism business in Pattaya has grown significantly this year.

He added current tourism initiatives focusing on secondary provinces and tax-rebates are creating business for Greater Pattaya and other provinces that have good infrastructure.

"For Dusit Thani Pattaya, we have received high advance bookings for October and November. The December figures are not yet in," Mr Moon said.

Tourism operators in secondary provinces are gaining more mix markets of solo tourist, young tourist family and incentive group thanks to government's initiatives.

Greater Pattaya boom

Data from C9 Hotelworks shows that expanding the gateway aviation hub with U-tapao airport has been a critical stimulator of demand in Pattaya, where passenger arrivals over a three-year period rose at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 79%.

One key infrastructure investment in the area has the Thai government finalising plans for high-speed rail links between U-tapao and Bangkok's two airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang, which is undoubtedly a game-changer for the Eastern Seaboard area.

New international routes into U-tapao grew dramatically in the past three years as airlift arrivals increased significantly with a CAGR of 59%.

By mid-2018, market-wide occupancy hit 77.9%. Most of the growth is centred in Greater Pattaya.

More hotels to open

Sanpech Supabowornsthian, President of Thai Hotels Association Eastern Chapter, said more hotels have opened in the eastern region this year, while existing ones are undergoing renovations.

"Rayong province is one of fastest growing for hotel investment since the government kicked off the EEC initiative. More locals and international chains plan to open hotels in this region in the future. The move is also aimed at capitalising on the booming of events business that is expected to come to the region," Mr Sanpech said.

In response to the EEC initiative, Star Convention Hotel in Rayong has completed a renovation of its 200 rooms and rebranded to Mercure, while another new hotel renamed Aksorn Rayong opened recently, targeted at more luxury and high-spending guests.

Kunchorn Modern Living, a residence developer in Rayong province, is diversifying into the hotel business with a plan to invest in a three-star hotel with 140 units. Golden City Rayong is planning to build a new hotel that consists of 80 rooms and Ploenjai Group is also building a serviced apartment with 70 rooms.

Mr Sanpech said hotels in Chon Buri provinces, especially in Pattaya, have completed major renovations, including Dusit Thani Pattaya, Avani Pattaya, and Amari Pattaya.

Olivier Berrivin, managing director of international operations Asia for Best Western Hotels and Resorts, said the Best Western Plus Speech Pattaya Hotel is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2019. Owned by Numchai 2014 Co, this 163 designed hotel will serve mid-scale markets.

Suwanna Buddhaprasart, chief executive of LH Mall and Hotel Co, said the company invested in a 6-billion baht mixed-use project in Pattaya called Terminal21 Pattaya, consisting of Grande Centre Point Hotel, shopping mall, entertainment and a cinema.

The project is about to open within this quarter and is targeted at locals and tourists from Asia, including China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and the Middle East.

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