Asian Markets

Thailand's AWC targets luxury, long stays in tourism recovery

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BANGKOK, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Thailand's Asset World Corporation Pcl (AWC) (AWC.BK) said on Monday it expects luxury travel to be one of the first sectors to recover as the country's tourism sector revives, confirming plans to double its number of hotel rooms to 10,000 by 2026.

AWC would also continue its five-year investment plan of 100 billion baht ($3.04 billion), Chief Executive Wallapa Traisorat said in an interview, while noting some smaller projects had been pushed back.

Wallapa announced on Monday plans for a 3.4 billion baht "wellness resort" in Bangkok covering 1.28 hectares (3.16 acres) of riverfront, including hotels, branded residences and spas.

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In November, AWC opened its 19th property in time to receive arrivals under Thailand’s reopening plan for vaccinated tourists.

Foreign arrivals in the past two years to Thailand plummeted to a fraction of the nearly 40 million visitors in 2019, with tourism losing $50 billion in annual revenue, an 82% plunge.

The government expects 200,000 arrivals this year and five million in 2022.

"40 million is large base with many segments ... we're targeting the luxury segment," Wallapa said.

"Tourist behaviour is changing - there are longer stays with a focus on well-being ... not only bringing back good memories but also feeling refreshed and healthy."

In April last year, occupancy slumped to 1%, though it has recovered to 20% thanks to domestic demand, she said.

The company has a strategy of securing prime locations and then partnering with brands for management.

AWC is owned by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi of Thai Beverage Pcl (TBEV.SI), one of Southeast Asia’s biggest drinks makers.

His daughter, Wallapa, oversaw the family’s real estate interests and reorganised the portfolio before listing AWC in an IPO in 2019.

($1 = 32.8900 baht)

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Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng Editing by Ed Davies

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