Thailand's Wattanapat Hospital plans IPO to help meet tourist demand

* Plans for IPO this month

* Plans 450 million baht project to meet tourist demand

BANGKOK, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Thailand’s Wattanapat Hospital Trang Pcl plans an initial public offering this month to help finance an expansion to absorb growing numbers of tourists traveling to the Andaman Coast, its executives said on Tuesday.

The company plans to spend 450 million baht ($13.57 million) on a new hospital project in the southern province of Krabi, a popular beach destination, Shane Laosonthorn, deputy director of finance, told Reuters in an interview.

The project should be operational in the third quarter of 2018 and will be financed by loans and funds from the IPO, he said. He did not disclose how much the firm expected to raise from the IPO.

“Krabi is the fourth largest source of tourism revenue in Thailand, but lacks health care services,” Shane said.

Tourism accounts for 12 percent of Thailand’s economy, and has been a rare bright spot for Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, whose growth still lags its peers.

Thailand expects about 35 million tourists this year after a record 32.6 million last year.

With its world-class hospitals, Thailand is a medical hub that caters mostly to visitors from the Middle East and countries in Asia, as well as expatriates from Europe, Australia and North America.

Kasikorn Research Center estimates income from international patients at private hospitals will be between 48 billion and 49 billion baht this year.

Unlike medical tourists, who travel to Thailand specifically for health care services, Wattanapat Hospital provides care for holidaymakers who have accidents while on vacation in popular beach destinations in the south, Chief Executive Officer Somchai Chansawng said.

The company expects revenue from foreigners to rise by 16 to 40 percent after the new project is completed, he added.

Hospitals in Thailand are actively expanding. Last year, the largest operator, Bangkok Dusit Medical Service, announced it would invest $370 million in a luxury healthcare centre.

Thonburi Healthcare Group plans an IPO this month after several delays, Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. Last year, Rajthanee Hospital Pcl raised $36 million via an IPO. (Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; editing by Orathai Sriring and Jason Neely)