|By Pornnalat Prachyakorn, Bangkok Post,
ThailandMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Apr. 29, 2008 --Golden Tulip Hospitality Group, a Swiss-based hotel and resort management company, is preparing to invest 5.05 billion baht in Thailand as its first major expansion in Southeast Asia.
Thailand is a major destination in the region for both business and leisure travellers, according to Mark van Ogtrop, Golden Tulip Southeast Asia's managing director.
The expansion to Thailand is part of the company's plan to spend about 25 billion baht in Southeast Asia over the next four years. In that time, it hopes to develop 20 hotels in Thailand. Of those, 60 percent will be the three-star Tulip Inn, 35 percent the four-star Golden Tulip and 5 percent the five-star Royal Tulip.
There are four confirmed projects in the initial stage, including two Tulip Inn hotels in Bangkok at Sukhumvit Soi 4 and another one in Chao Phraya Riverside, one Golden Tulip Resort in Samui and a Tulip Inn Patong in Phuket.
Another 14 are under discussion, including in Suvarnabhumi Airport, he said. Mr van Ogtrop said secondary growth locations would be Pattaya, Chon Buri and Rayong, where several industries are based.
Hotels will be developed under three models:
Mr van Ogtrop said the company is also currently in talks with Thailand's two largest real-estate development companies for a business joint venture, one of which was a listed company and another which was a private company.
The deal is expected to be officially announced in the near future.
"We decided to enter the (Southeast Asian) market as we saw lots of room for growth and the market is not saturated yet. And there are not many international brands on the segment," Mr van Ogtrop said. "The best marketing strategy is to multiply property to get your brand out."
He said the need for branded properties was increasing.
Travel behaviour is changing with tourists in the region preferring to select hotels by themselves.
Hans Kennedie, chief executive, said Asia offered healthy growth potential in the hotel segment due to its large population, solid GDP growth and high influx of travellers.
Target guests will be domestic travellers, with a 50:50 proportion of business and leisure travellers.
Within a couple of years, the company aimed to become one of Thailand's top hotel brands on par with Amari, Dusit and Centara, Mr Kennedie said.
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Copyright (c) 2008, Bangkok Post, Thailand
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