Author

Andrew J Wood

Asset Seizure Sets New Bar for Targeting Wildlife Criminals

(Bangkok) On September 30, 2021, Police Major General Piyapun Pingmuang, Secretary General of Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Organization (AMLO), awarded Freeland with an official plaque of recognition and appreciation for its critical support of a multi-year, multi-country case against an international wildlife trafficking syndicate, which resulted in over 330 million baht in assets being frozen and seized.  The case targeted multiple suspects based in Thailand who were suspected of trafficking endangered species across the country’s borders, and laundering money from their related sales and purchases money.  

One of the suspects was the notorious Boonchai Bach, based in Nakorn Panom, Thailand whose multiple properties and bank accounts were seized. 

Freeland’s support of AMLO on a string of related cases started in 2011, with a recent concentrated joint effort between 2019-2021 that resulted in the major seizure in March 2021.  

“AMLO’s case against Hydra is the most impressive and important piece of anti-money laundering investigation work into wildlife trafficking that we are aware of in Asia,” said Steven Galster, founder of Freeland.  “We believe the Hydra case has set a new bar for AML performance in the arena of wildlife conservation, and we are hopeful it will lead to more asset targeting and seizures.”

Freeland congratulated General Pingmuang for his permanent appointment as Secretary General of AMLO, noting that “his leadership made a huge positive difference in this case.”  Freeland also congratulated Police Lieutenant Colonel Teeraphong Dulyavichan for leading the team of investigators.  “Dulyavichan and his team were five-star!” added Galster.

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Why Andrew J Wood is the BEST candidate for PRESIDENT of SKÅL ASIA.  

 

FACTHis years of experience on the board (since 2005) and knowledge of Skål International cannot be matched. 

FACT: His honest reputation and his ability for action to get things done through people. His contacts of Skålleagues is exceptional. 

FACTA member of Skål since1992 with a record of achievements and success born out of years of skilfully developing achievable goals. A strategic management style based on planning and looking ahead. He is hard working, straight forward, non political and tells it as it is.

 

FACT: During his Presidency his club Bangkok won the Club of the Year 2018-19. 

FACT: Awarded Skål Order of Merit in 2013, the Membre D’Honneur in 2019 and Skål International President’s Award in 2020

 

NO-ONE is more qualified to lead SKÅL ASIA out of the post COVID era and into the future. 

 

HOW? 

 

WIth ACTION and a PLAN. The 2021-2-3 PLAN 

20 Clear GOALS and ACTION. Recorded for all to see. 

They are:

 MEMBERSHIP 

  1. Open new countries Cambodia | Laos | Vietnam 
  2. Open new clubs from 43 active clubs to 50 clubs in Asia by 2023
  3. Target 3000 members in Asia by 2023
  4. Work to incorporate YS into the membership portfolio by 2022/23

 SUPPORT

  1. Strengthen communication with all 5  National Committees in ASIA ie Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Ch.Taipei and India
  1. Provide grants and loans to achieve membership goals at grassroots through clubs and NCs

 MARKETING

  1. SAA CONGRESS to offer best available rates. Abolish rotation (East, West, SEA). Make it price led. Review content format. Provide more business and networking opportunities. Review speaker content
  1. Develop Skål Asia sponsors network

 DIGITAL

  1. Appoint a Digital Marcom Director (DMD) to the Board
  1. DMD to manage SI/SAA  websites and all SAA social media

Facebook

WhatsApp

LinkedIn 

Messenger

Instagram 

Twitter

  1. DMD to manage SAA database (dB), Zoom, Election Buddy and EDM communications 
  1. Enhance digital marketing opportunities for all SAA clubs

 PR & COMMUNICATIONS

  1. Provide First Class communications and images with outstanding branding and professional look and feel. Ensure this branding is mirrored in our emails and all communications including media releases. 
  1.  Quarterly professionally produced 2 page eNewsletter

 ADMIN

  1. Appoint a paid secretariat managed by the board and reporting to the SAA SECRETARY 
  1. Legally Register SAA

 FINANCIAL

  1. Resolve bank account placement
  1. Introduce electronic invoicing, payment and banking

 STATUTES & BY-LAWS

  1. Revise and Review SAA Statutes and By-Laws. Ensure that the board represents a wide cross section of its members and limits (a maximum of 3) the number of representatives from one country in line with other Skål groupings

 SUCCESSION PLAN

  1. Develop a SAA succession plan to ensure continuity at board level

We will start to implement the plan from the moment I am elected. We have much to do and it is important that we don’t waste time. 

Please make your VOTE count. 

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Dear Friends,

The Management of Success

I write to you today as I reach out to all our Skålleagues, as a Presidential candidate for the Skål Asian Area which it has been my honour to serve since first elected to the board in 1995, sixteen years ago.   

I wish to convey my assurance, to everyone that I will work hard as your President with a dedicated commitment and above all my hallmark passion for SKÅL. 

As the world of travel and tourism faces its greatest challenges, its darkest hours, I am inspired to see the shoots of rejuvenation and growth. To once again feel hope and progress as we rebuild, rediscover and recover our travel and tourism industry. 

As the wheels slowly turn it is important that we learn from our past mis-deeds. That our paths be sustainable and responsible. We are in Asia and should support Asia businesses wherever possible. That we have a plan, a vision. The plan needs to be time-dependant, organised and managed, not just showing spurts of activity at election time, or worst, simply dragging our feet – procrastination is not an option.  

Earlier in June this year I introduced a road map for the Skål Asian Area (SAA), this is my vision, my plan. Recorded for all to see, born out of years of successfully developing achievable goals not only at club level but also national. It is good to see that some are being acted upon by the current President at the end of his term – though much more needs to be done. My 12-point road map for Skål Asia can be found here: https://www.skalbangkok.com/about-skal/skal-asia/

We need to ensure we get ahead and reach our goals. It is essential that all exco team members are cognizant of the important components. These need to written down and used as points of reference which ultimately will lead to success and goals being achieved.  As President, in 2019 my club, Bangkok, won Skål International ‘s Club of the Year. Winning by stretching ourselves, reaching past our comfort zones, applying the same successful techniques of team building and setting achievable goals learnt from experience. 

All of the above can be transferred into the Asian Area. 

As I step down from successfully running my club for the past 4 years, to stepping up to take over the reins of running the Asian Area, I bring with me all of my knowledge. How to successfully engage our membership and to grow. To develop the look and feel of our brand. Back in 2009 I was part of a small team of International Councillors that developed the theme of “to be the trusted voice” which was rolled out during the Presidency of Hulya Aslantas. The small Task Force as we were called, included myself and 2 great leaders, Mok Singh (USA) and Thomas Vincent (CAN). For my part in the Task Force I was later awarded Skål International’s Order of Merit in 2013. 

Managing success is part of my DNA, from World Class Hotels, Global Media and SKÅL. My drive, energy and above all commitment is absolute. I look forward to the future opportunity to serve. 

Respectfully 

Andrew J Wood 

(Membre D’Honneur)

Presidential Candidate 2021-23

Skål International Asia

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Tourism leaders at Phuket Sandbox Summit urge European governments
to recognise Phuket’s status as a safe haven for international travellers

As Bangkok grapples with rising numbers of Covid infections, leading tourism voice KP Ho, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Group, has told European envoys, airlines, senior officials and business leaders, that for Phuket Sandbox to succeed it is imperative for Phuket to be given “green” destination status.
 
Speaking at the Phuket Sandbox Summit held at Laguna Phuket, KP Ho called on policy-makers in Europe and around the world to support Phuket as a separate “green” zone.
 
Phuket has the potential to lead the global tourism recovery, as the historic Phuket Sandbox initiative sets the standard for other destinations to follow, he said. But, to succeed, governments need to recognise it as a safe, self-enclosed destination, rather than combining its travel status with the rest of Thailand.
 
See full address by KP Ho, Executive Chairman, Banyan Tree Group:

https://youtu.be/Mp5Xncz1Vz8
 
KP Ho’s position was supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) at the Phuket Sandbox Summit. Deputy Governor for International Marketing Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americans, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, said: “We are trying to propose Phuket to the UK government to be on the green list of destinations, even though Thailand is on the amber list. We are optimistic about Phuket Sandbox. Phuket is safe and we will never compromise anyone’s safety.”
 
He confirmed there were almost 300,000 rooms booked until the end of August in SHA Plus hotels, with nearly 13,000 arrivals and 124 flights after 28 days, with many more scheduled. Top markets are the US, UK, Israel, Germany, France, the UAE and Switzerland with an average length of stay 11 days.
 
As anxiety grows across Southeast Asia’s key travel destinations struggling with infection numbers, the Phuket Sandbox model is rapidly becoming the standard bearer of hope for the tourism industry.
 
Launched on 1st July 2021, the Sandbox enables fully-vaccinated international visitors to fly directly to the destination and stay on the island quarantine-free. Hotels need to ensure at least 70% of their staff have received vaccines – the same inoculation rate as Phuket’s population, creating herd immunity against Covid-19. While the high level of protection doesn’t prevent people from catching Covid-19, it does significantly reduce the likelihood of serious infection and hospitalization.

“Infections and re-infections are not what really count; it’s hospitalisation rates and ICU rates that count. The Thai government have to emphasise those new numbers and shift the narrative towards ‘how many people are really getting sick?’, not ‘are the numbers going up?’,” added Mr Ho.
 
By reporting this new data, he said, it should be possible for Phuket to be set apart from the rest of Thailand and placed on the ‘safe list’ of destinations to visit. This is not without precedent; the UK government for example, has put the island of Madeira on its green list, while the rest of Portugal remains on the amber list. The same rule applies to Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

“What’s really important is that EU countries – the national governments, spurred on by travel agents, the media and other people – recognise that it’s necessary to disengage the perception of Phuket from the rest of Thailand. It should be a situation where Thailand could be a red alert zone but Phuket could be a green zone,” said Mr Ho. It could be possible to create a series of Sandboxes in other destinations, such as Koh Samui (which recently launched Samui Plus), Bali and Phu Quoc. As long as that Sandbox is well-organised, as it is in Phuket, it should be separated from the rest of the country.”
 
Vice Governor of Phuket, Mr Piyapong Choowong, added: “I would like to confirm we support Phuket Sandbox. We are making sure people on the island and all visitors are safe so we can run the Sandbox smoothly and continue to welcome more tourists to Phuket.”

Presenting the most up-to-date data, C9 Hotelworks Managing Director, Bill Barnett, added: “There is a lot at stake but what is clear is that Phuket Sandbox is alive and well, and it’s working.”
 
The Phuket Sandbox Summit was held at Laguna Phuket, attended by:
  • Phuket Vice Governor, Piyapong Choowong
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand Deputy Governor, Siripakorn Chaewsamoot
  • Banyan Tree Group Executive Chairman, KP Ho
  • Laguna Phuket Managing Director, Ravi Chandran
  • Phuket City Development CEO, Nipon Aekwanich
  • British Honorary Consul, Martin Carpenter
  • Honorary Consul of Germany, Anette Jiminez Höchstetter
  • Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Seven Smulders
  • S Hotels and Resorts Senior Vice President Operations, Stefano Alberto Ruzza
  • Dusit Hotels and Resorts Vice President Sales, Prachoom Tantiprasertsuk
  • Singapore Airlines Station Manager Phuket, Louis Tan
  • Emirates Airlines Airport Services Manager, Thanakorn Srihamart
  • Qatar Airways Airport Services Manager, Warunee Saiboonjun
  • C9 Hotelworks Managing Director, Bill Barnett
  • Delivering Asia Communications CEO, David Johnson
For more information and to book your safe and secure vacation at Laguna Phuket, please visit www.lagunaphuket.com.

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BANGKOK: To counter the impacts of COVID-19 and prepared for the future post pandemic, global travel will need to change. 

The COVID-19 crisis presents a unique opportunity to collaborate on reviving the industry. The pandemic and associated travel restrictions has had a devastating impact on tourism. This pause has led to a new beginning and reimagination of how tourism can be more robust, profitable, sustainable, impactful and responsible in the future.

 

Now is an opportunity to unite tourism stakeholders as they reopen their doors a new chapter that will develop a new understanding of the balance between: 

human needs vs. economic progress 

&

environmental / social needs vs. financial prosperity

Travel will return. With increased vaccination we have seen this already. The bounce-back is significant. PATA in their recent report forecast international visitor arrivals in the region will increase by +50.8 per cent to 113.55 million visitors this year to 316.50million (+320.3 per cent) next year. 

ForwardKeys notes shorter lead booking times are the new normal. The ForwardKeys analysts that track global tourism trends in future airline reservations have observed a continued trend for 2021 that booking lead times keep shrinking, often less than 4 days before travel. 

China, the world’s second biggest economy, whose population love to travel, saw GDP grow 18.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period the year before. 

Flights are increasing too. Qatar Airways for instance will resume flights to Phuket, with four weekly services. The airline is already flying 12 semi-commercial flights weekly to Bangkok. The new Phuket services will increase the total to 16 flights a week between Doha and Thailand as Phuket opens in July to nationalities from countries on Thailand’s low to medium risk list. If they have been

vaccinated against Covid-19 and present a negative Covid test certificate they will not need to undergo a 14-day quarantine. 

The WTCC says that the future of travel and tourism will fall under four macro-trends that are expected to lead the way through recovery and beyond. 

•Demand Evolution: Traveller preferences  have shifted toward the familiar, predictable and trusted. Domestic vacations and outdoor holidays will grow. 

•Health and Hygiene: Health, safety and trust are paramount in this new era. 

•Innovation and Digitisation: COVID-19 is proving to be an unexpected catalyst, with contactless technologies among others offering safe and seamless travel experiences.

•Sustainability: The world has been reinvigorated to tackle social, environmental, and institutional sustainability. 

When travel does return I’ve identified 6 major trends that will affect us all: 

1. Travel agents and travel professionals will become essential

2. Sustainable Tourism Will Soar

3. Small and local communities will see tourism grow 

4. Quality over quantity will be paramount

5. Staying closer to home will become the norm

6. We need to travel – travelling is good for mental health

Travel agents and travel professionals will become essential

Travel agents and travel professionals will account for two thirds of all travel bookings. Conde Nast Traveller predicts a shift to booking travel through agents and established operators, noting their invaluable knowledge and industry connections. 2020 has shown and taught us that the expertise and financial protection of booking through a travel agent often outweighs the amount you pay in commission.

Additionally, consumers will look to agents who specialise in the environment. Those who care about where they send their customers can intuitively cut through greenwash. With the decline in air travel from the pandemic, domestic road trips will be popular.

The $8 trillion global travel industry, with open borders, open destinations, and visa-free travel, won’t return in the short term but pent-up demand will rebound in 2022. Not only will we travel again, we’ll do it better.

This pause gives us the gift of time to consider how we can travel more safely, consciously and protect our future industry and the planet.

Sustainable Tourism Will Soar

Getting away from crowds and exploring the great outdoors will increase in popularity. In the wake of the pandemic, experts predict there will be more interest in visiting less-crowded places. Travellers will demand responsible travel policies. The industry is responding by actively promoting a healthy world over profit margins. In addition travellers are reducing carbon footprints by purchasing offsets and by staying at certified green hotels.

Small and local communities will benefit

We will change where we travel. We need to diversify our locations to avoid mass tourism and focus on the places that really need it. Many communities suffered during COVID-19.

To empower the voice of smaller operators in the ecosystem a good example is travel and hospitality tech players Airbnb, EaseMyTrip, OYO and Yatra, they have come together as the Confederation of Hospitality, Technology and Tourism Industry (CHATT). They aim to promote domestic tourism, lead the digital transformation of tourism related business and proactively engage travellers and the tourism industry to be a thought leader and  also offer educational training.

Quality over quantity will be paramount

Before we travel we will rethink how and why we travel, and more off-the-beaten-track travelling. Avoiding crowds and instead heading to wide open spaces and nature.

Staying closer to home will become the norm

Some are discovering the benefits of travel even at home. Self-learning courses; cooking classes, a visit to a park, a meal at an outdoor pavement brasserie or at an outdoor terrace keep the spirit of travel alive by considering the feelings that travel elicits. When we compare everything to being locked up, a walk to the park can feel like travel.

Travelling and Planning trips aids mental health

A recent survey in the US found that travel improves empathy, energy, attention, and focus. Planning a trip is just as effective. A Cornell study also showed that looking forward to travel substantially increases happiness.

Studying maps and determining a route makes you feel like your working toward a real goal. If we accept that things might get cancelled we can also expand our comfort zone without too much stress.

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It comes as wealthy countries have faced increased pressure from WTCC and the World Health Organization (WHO) to share technology and rights with vaccine manufacturers in poorer and middle-income countries.

At the just concluded WTTC Summit in Cancun, Mexico. There wasn’t any public discussion on the catastrophic situation in India, but CEO Gloria Guevara took the initative and interviewed Manuel Santos, a signatory with 170 others to push US President Biden to open patent restrictions, allowing the vaccine to reach developing nations.

President Biden has said previously ”No one is safe until everyone is safe.” Now we must make that happen.

Contribute to saving millions of lives is the common thread of many global calls to action. An example of this can be seen with the development of the US Moderna vaccine, which was developed with the NIAID and received $2.5bn in government funding.

Moderna, along with three of five other vaccine manufacturers in the US that use the government technology, has currently no licensing agreement with Washington.

Globalists say that any licensing should include provisions that allow the US to authorise technology sharing with the WHO to help ramp up global production; and include requirements for accessible pricing universally.

This could contribute to saving millions of lives globally. Global vaccination with highly effective vaccines, is our best defense against the development of vaccine-resistant variants of the coronavirus.

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said:

“President Biden with the G7 ahead there is an unparalleled opportunity to provide the leadership that only the U.S. can provide and that hastens an end to the pandemic for the world.”

“An urgent temporary waiver of intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization would help us ramp up global supply of vaccines together with a global multi-year burden sharing plan to finance vaccines for the poorest countries”.

“This would be in the strategic interests of the U.S., and of every country on the planet”

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BANGKOK: Thailand Ministers ponder the next steps to re-start it’s massive tourism industry, initially set for July 1, 2021 in Phuket. The plan may need to be overhauled as Phuket struggles to immunise the whole island in the wake of the third wave of hotspots. Phuket, prior to the third wave had already secured more than 100,000 doses and planned to receive an additional 930,000 doses by June. This would be enough for 70% of the population – the target needed to achieve herd immunity. The spike in Covid-19 cases has interrupted this plan, as vaccines must also be allocated to other provinces urgently to help fight the latest outbreaks. 

Not deterred, the Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said he plans to meet next week with all relevant agencies to discuss the reopening plan, previously set for July this year. Eighteen provinces have now been declared red zones, with a partial lockdown and stay at home order. The alert warning was also raised across the rest of the country to orange, in all the remaining 59 provinces many of which had previously been green and considered safe.

Deciding to ignore expert warnings, the government allowed the Songkran holidays to go ahead, even adding an extra day. However no mass gatherings or water splashing were allowed.

(Songkran is the Thai New Year celebration which typically lasts 3-4 days, leading to a mass exodus of cities like Bangkok). 

Last year, due to Covid-19, the holiday was cancelled. As a result of the holiday this year, a few outbreaks in Bangkok allowed the virus to spread widely. The Bangkok outbreaks centred on entertainment places; restaurant-pubs and nightclubs around the Thonglor area, plus a high-society wedding at a new riverside hotel, whose guest list included a number of government Ministers and prominent business leaders. The Covid virus from these few hotspots were quickly spread throughout the whole country, as people returned to their homes for the holidays. Unfortunately this was a perfect storm for spreading the virus. Up until this point, since the beginning of the pandemic, Thailand had only recorded 28,889 cases and 94 deaths as at April 1, 2021. Eighteen days later this has risen to 43,742 cases and 104 deaths. An increase in cases of 51 per cent. 

During my recent visit to Hua Hin, empty beaches were very much in evidence already with the third wave leading to mass cancellations. Some resorts, previously 70-80 per cent occupied, saw domestic arrivals decimated. Already hurting from a lack of international visitors, this latest outbreak was a most unwelcome guest. 

The question of re-opening Thailand to Tourism, starting with Phuket, has obviously taken a knock backwards. The Tourism and Sports Minster said, “The key determinant is insufficient vaccines, we are concerned about the re-opening timeline. We still need to discuss the vaccine administration plan. If the herd immunity goal cannot be achieved, we may have to consider opening only certain areas in Phuket,” he said.

However, to continue with the same plan, even with restricted zones, will not be easy as long as the country still has increasing new daily infections, said Minister Pipat.

“Most importantly, we still have to hear from other countries that we already started travel bubble negotiations with about their confidence regarding the same timeline,” he said.

Like Hua Hin, hotels in the North reported cancellations of more than 70 per cent with Chiang Mai a cause for concern and currently experiencing increased coronavirus cases. Prior to the pandemic, the province was a popular destination to celebrate Thai New Year.

Regrettably Minister Pipat is in self-quarantine after being in close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19. The Minster fortunately has already received his first vaccination jab last month (AstraZeneca) and will remain in isolation until next week when all tests are complete (3 swab tests). 

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Hua Hin Thailand

It may surprise many to learn that Thailand produces excellent award winning wines. Monsoon Valley is one of the very finest.

You can visit the vineyard year-round but we chose to visit for the brilliant annual harvest festival in early April to pick grapes;  ‘stomp’ grapes in the old fashioned way – barefoot! And afterwards with washed feet you can enjoy wine tasting, tapas and entertainment.

Located just 39 km from central Hua Hin we took advantage of parking the car and taking the shuttle mini van from the Vineyard’s wine bar and tasting rooms in town. The journey took 45 mins through fascinating countryside.

Once there a welcome drink of iced grape juice (non alcoholic and children friendly), a quick welcome brief before we headed off in the vineyards excellent ‘hop on-hop off’ transportation. With our guide and driver on board we were off!

Contact: Monsoon Valley Vineyard Tel: 

081-701-0222, 081-701-0444, 081-904-0555

1 Moo 9, Baan khork Chang Patana, 

Nong Plup, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110 Thailand

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BANGKOK: As fragments of light appear on the tourism horizon and to get you and your hotel in the best shape possible for when you re-open there are many factors to consider as markets around the world now slowly ease off travel restrictions. Ensure you have everything covered so you’re ready for a successful re-opening. 

As you start to prepare for next year’s budgets it is imperative that hotels make their budget work harder for them. With the challenges presented by Covid-19, now more than ever will be the time to review your hotel technology solutions to create an agile environment that sets a higher bar of technological excellence moving into the future.

I have cherry picked and summarised the best advice which may prove a useful ✔️check list in our new world. Bereft of so little knowledgable advice to hoteliers and tourism stakeholders, I hope my 40+ years as a hotelier can sort some of the wheat from the chaff.

In the beginning 

•To ease anxiety of both the staff and guests, additional training of front-facing employees is encouraged. With hotels re-opening simultaneously, a focus should be on the uniqueness of the hotel brand and offers, to allow differentiation between hotels emerging from the lockdown. When bringing an establishment back to operational standards, after closure – partial or otherwise – travel partners and their customers need to be sure they are entering a safe and reliable operation that has maintained standards and offers competitive value for money. 

•Ensure that all stakeholders – such as banks, operators and suppliers – are aware of, and on-board with, the re-opening plan.

•A safe environment with SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and precautions in place are on the top of your trade partners’ lists. Agents may want to inspect your property before placing their clients in your rooms. Yes, they’ll want to see plenty of hand sanitisers, masks, social distancing and controls at the pool. They also need to know your front-line staff have been trained on safe hygiene procedures. 

One Step at a Time

•No one expects you to be able to re-open the doors and return back to 2019’s numbers immediately. A slow climb will take place. As hotels gear up to welcome their guests back, re-opening plans should be more conservative (and realistic) rather than hopeful and expectations will have to be constantly adjusted.

•Everyone needs to take precautions, be aware of your environment and ensure you protect your manpower, yourself, and your clients.

•Keep an eye on the quarantine requirements at both ends of the travel journey and the opening of air bridges (if any), to ensure adherence as well as the guest’s seamless experience.

•Recovery will take place one step at a time. Hotels need to plan for the future and work closely with local and overseas travel partners. Touch base with your partners today to keep the harmony you had going from disappearing. There is a need to rekindle relationships from both sides. You need to say “hello” today and send a more informative email next week. Keeping your establishment alive in their minds is of great importance. Be the first seen, not the last. They may have been wondering where you have you been all this time. You need to keep your name out there to ensure you still have friends once international business returns. 

COVID Policies and Procedures

•Hygiene standards will no doubt change, permanently. That said, the guest experience must not be sacrificed while the hotel ensures the high health and safety standards. 

•F&B will also change and continue to evolve. 

Buffets are now discouraged; guests’ expectations and hotel service levels will need to be managed accordingly. In-room dining will pick up, with a preference toward contactless room delivery. 

•There are numerous COVID hospitality policies. Discuss with your travel agents and tour companies what they are expecting. A few hotels have created their own policies based on 2020 updates. Ensure that you transfer travellers Covid-safe from the airport to their hotels and back again. Having a solid policy should keep you in line with expectations, and people will have trust in hotels that are ready and have prepared for the future.

PMS

•Given the current pandemic, many elements of your operations will have been adjusted so this maybe a good time to look at Property Management Systems (PMS) and update software or shop around to see what’s available. A time maybe to renew or replace? Also if your guest contact technology is outdated or simply does not meet expectations, the cost of ignoring could be critical to the long-term bottom line of the business. The virus has taught us that contact-free technology is here to stay. Digital commerce, home delivery and food-to-go for instance lead the way in cash-free transactions. They adopted  their customer-facing and operational payments processes to the current environment, optimised the customer payment experience and built reliability and trust. 

•Hotels will now have to look at cloud-based and integrated solutions and the possible use of a non-human interface mechanism. With that said, keep in mind that the use of technology should not compromise on the personal touch and guest experience. 

Vehicle Safety

•Agents will question whether transportation providers – public or private – are insured, and have done regular safety checks on their vehicles?

OTAs and Marketing

•OTAs witnessed a huge drop in revenue and will try to make this up, as would any company in the world. They have huge marketing budgets, and will entice you to join them. Be careful, and make sure what they offer covers your costs and a lot more. Trying to fill rooms is one thing; keeping your cash flow alive is another, and most properties will not have an adequate cash flow for a while once doors open. OTAs may attempt to revise previous contracts that only fit their agenda. Remember this, plenty of properties went with prepayment schemes and now they are looking for their money back but due to Covid and by crying, “force majeure” the OTAs have been found lacking. Meanwhile, establishments still have to pay their staff and stay alive.

•Those who remained open, have been working with domestic agents and DMCs. These are the partners, who helped you during the hard times, and with whom you should build a stronger bond looking towards the future. 

•Sales and marketing efforts should be based on travel and booking trends, as well as the opening of the travel market. Marketing teams should be quick to adapt to the changes and new trends, and embrace the use of digital platforms for both sales and marketing efforts.

Summary

Your goal during re-opening is to reduce your losses. To do this:

– Work with local travel agents and DMCs, and create a lasting bond.

– Do not expect room rates to immediately return to 2019 levels, as you may find yourself with no partners or contracts. Raising rates must be mutually agreed upon from both sides. Increase rates over time, and check with your partners on what they are selling, and at what rate to prevent unnecessary losses. Seek a win-win for both sides during re-opening.

– Build your occupancy step by step.

– Control your manpower and budgets. 

– Emphasise your uniqueness 

– Check all licences and insurance are in order and renewed where applicable. Include vehicles. 

– Take a look at technology use in the workplace and F&B offerings. 

– Communicate clearly to all stakeholders of your plan to re-open. 

– Review regularly your COVID hygiene policies. 

– Look at cloud-based and integrated solutions and review PMS. 

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BANGKOK: In a move largely expected after intense lobbying from the huge Travel and Toursm industry here in Thailand, the government approved the  waiving of quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors arriving on Phuket from July 1, the first significant  reopening for the popular tourism destination.  

An economic panel chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday approved the proposal by Phuket‘s private sector and business groups to inoculate at least 70% of the island’s residents to reopen for vaccinated tourists, said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

Thai tourism and airline businesses, with the support of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thai Hotels Association (THA), Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), SKAL THAILAND, PATA TH, International Air Transport Association (IATA), #OpenThailandSafely campaign, Board of Airline Representatives Business Association (BAR), Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT), all commended the government on its success in containing the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand, however expressed their wish to now restart tourism from overseas for vaccinated travellers. 

Phuket has been without any new Covid-19 cases for 89 day. Phuket authorities have approved plans to welcome visitors without quarantine on July 1 to stimulate the local economy, and will have one million Covid-19 vaccine doses before that. There is an urgent need for foreign tourists here, to stimulate both the economy and tourism sector. Before, a local resident earned about 40,000 baht per month on average. In February this fell to about 8,000 baht. Without some change, this will fall to 1,964 baht in July, which is below the poverty line.

A survey revealed that foreigners are interested in visiting Phuket but without undergoing quarantines. Local official says those foreigners who visit without undergoing quarantine, will be tracked using the Covid-19 tracing mobile app.
Phi Phi Island and Maya Bay
The government plans to test the reopening plan in Phuket before other key tourist hot spots, such as Koh Samui, to help restart the tourism industry battered by a year without its millions of tourists who contributed to one-fifth of the economy before the pandemic. Koh Samui, following Phuket, is also asking for approval to allow foreign travellers to skip quarantine requirements. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, says he is hopeful for Samui to receive approval. 
 
The approval for Phuket means it will reopen three months earlier than the rest of the country, which is expected to reopen for those who are fully vaccinated only in October.
Old Phuket Town
Phuket residents will also be prioritised in the vaccine roll-out, with more than 930,000 doses expected to be administered before the reopening, Mr Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the island’s tourist association, said.
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