Bangkok, Megacity in the Making

Thailand, Bangkok, accommodation, infrastructure

From left to right- Jesper Palmqvist STR, Apichart Chutrakul, CEO Sansiri, Bill Barnett, Managing Director C9 Hotelworks

The last Thailand Tourism Forum was hosted on January 22 at the Intercontinental Hotel to look at the growth of Bangkok and its implication for the tourism industry. Tourism and hotel business in Thailand will be very dependent of the next stage of development in the Thai capital. And according to Bill Barnett,managing director C9 Hotelworks, a consulting company, Bangkok is poised to become the next worldclass megacity in Asia, next to Tokyo and Shanghai. “With a 464 km railways network in five years time, Bangkok will match cities such as London or New York. East is the new West”, he explained.

Perfect connectivity to Bangkok will come not only from the interconnection and expansion of Bangkok three international airports -Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao Pattaya- but also from the fact that ground accessibility is available all across the metropolis. Look at Bang Sue, the new rail hub which will be the largest rail hub in Southeast Asia”, added Bill Barnett.

Investors in the real estate industry must then be aware… And they are despite uncertainties over the pace of development. Bill Barnett’s projection of 465 km of rail tracks might be a bit optimistic. It took more than 20 years to see Bangkok railways network reaching 110 km with some 80 stations. More realistic is another 170 km to be added until 2023- not such a bad result in regard to the pace of construction in previous decades!

The tourism and hotel business is already levering at this future development according to industry experts at TTF.

Jesper Palmqvist, area director for Asia-Pacific at global research firm STR, said Bangkok is poised to see more hotels opening over the next decade as more infrastructure are made available. will continue to grow in terms of hotel performance and infrastructure development. “With almost three years of stable growth in terms of hotel performance, Bangkok has put the 2014 decline firmly behind it. In November 2017, revenue per available room [RevPAR] had grown 3.4% year-on-year, against a backdrop of a reasonably strong supply increase of 4.1%,” said Mr Palmqvist during a media session.

A positive outcome has been the constant increase in rooms but also in rates since 2015. “It shows that Bangkok is becoming a maturing market but also that political and economical stability has been essential to the city’s hotel development”, added STR area director.

However, not all areas are reaping the benefits of Bangkok favourable environment. “Sukhumvit has seen its rates declining last year due to intense competition. But we see a shift to new areas such as Bangkok River side, Silom or Yaowarrat. And with the extension of public transport facilities, we now see the development of new mid-scale or upper mid-scale hotels in Bangkok outskirts area. The trend is particularly visible in Northern Bangkok”, highlighted Jesper Palmqvist.

The River area is also turning into a hot spot for investors. “Visitors today want more than just a destination. They now desire an experience. And the Chao Praya River area offers service, accessibility, authenticity and great experiences”, described Supoj Chaiwatsirikul, Managing Director ICONSIAM, the next shopping mall slated for opening this year.

The exciting image of Bangkok will then fuel in return growth in tourism as new products, services, gastronomy will continue to be the capital’s best ambassadors to attract visitors, according to Jesper Palmqvist.