|By Chadamas Chinmaneevong, Bangkok Post,
ThailandMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 25--Most hotels near the former anti-government rally site at Ratchaprasong intersection are ready to resume normal operations this week.
Prakit Chinamourpong, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said several hotels in the zone, which had been home to red-shirt protesters for nearly two months, planned to reopen this week. Damage assessments are ongoing at various properties in the area.
The association will hold a meeting of its members today to gather opinions on issues such as damage and rescue measures, so it can present the government with proposals on reviving the hotel sector.
"The government should lend its hand to help the entire sector, not only hotels in Bangkok, because the average occupancy rate is estimated at about 20% at present," Mr Prakit said.
Staff at hotels around the Ratchaprasong area are happy to be back at work. Their hotels have not been severely damaged, he said.
InterContinental Hotel will reopen on May 26, and will also accommodate guests from Holiday Inn Bangkok, which remains closed. Staff at Holiday Inn Bangkok said its reopening would depend on guest demand.
Amari Watergate Bangkok and Pathumwan Princess Hotel opened yesterday. Dusit Thani Bangkok is scheduled to reopen today. It has already received some reservations from an international incentive group which plans to bring about 100 delegates to the property next month.
"We got confirmation from a group, our first guests, who will check in at 12.30 pm tomorrow," Andrew Cornelio, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, said yesterday.
He described the guests' decision to book, taken directly after last week's riots ended, as highly encouraging for Dusit Thani. The hotel is looking forward to seeing more guests return to the hotel as word spreads about its reopening, said Mr Cornelio.
"This is my favourite hotel," said Keith Gilmour of Seaweld Engineering, one of the first guests to book for the May 25 reopening.
"When I read the announcement that Dusit Thani Bangkok is standing proud and strong after the recent unfortunate events, I decided to switch my booking from somewhere else to here. I believe there's no better hotel in Bangkok than Dusit Thani," he said.
To welcome the first returning guests, the hotel plans for them to be presented with the hotel's 40th anniversary pins and garlands by Dusit Thani's CEO Chanin Donavanik.
The property is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and will use the reopening to celebrate a new beginning for Dusit Thani Bangkok and for Thailand.
Four Seasons Bangkok and Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok will also open on May 26.
Kamonwan Wipulakorn, executive vice-president of Erawan Group Plc, told the Stock Exchange of Thailand that two of its hotels in the Ratchaprasong area -- Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok and Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok -- have suspended their services since mid-April.
"We lost about 150 million baht from the two hotels in Ratchaprasong. Meanwhile, our other 10 hotels located in Bangkok, Pattaya, Samui and Phuket have also been hurt by the slowdown of tourism caused by the political incidents," she said.
The Erawan Group forecasts that Thai tourism will take at least six months to recover. The company has cut its average occupancy forecast to about 62% for the year, compared with 58% last year. It has also trimmed this year's revenue projection by 20% to 3.35 billion baht, still 5% higher than last year.
Arnoma Hotel Bangkok, located opposite CentralWorld, plans to reopen this week and Indra Regent Hotel Bangkok will open on June 1.
Central Plaza Hotel Plc will resume operations at Centara Grand Hotel and Bangkok Convention Centre on June 1. It was not damaged during last week's riots, the company said in a statement.
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