BANGKOK: Thailand has often been a holiday destination of choice for many Malaysians who want a quick escape overseas.
However, according to global travel website Skift, a holiday at one of Thailand’s popular beach resorts could cost as much or even more than one in Greece, Spain, Turkey or Egypt.
According to the Bangkok Post, a five-star resort in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Samet could cost up to US$500 (RM2,074) per room for a night.
This differed little from a four-star hotel which could cost a tourist up to US$350, compared to a room in Turkey and Egypt which was about US$200 and US$300 for one in Germany, Austria and even Switzerland.
The price of a holiday in Thailand had increased about 30 per cent in US dollars and 40 per cent in Euros over the last five years.
According to the CEO of Diethelm Travel Group, Stephen Roemer, hotels in Thailand were now more expensive than resorts in Europe, and he expressed fear that this could have a negative impact on Thailand’s tourism market.
Industry players agree that the strength of the baht, largely due to the country’s healthy current account surplus, is a major concern.
“Although there have been talks to resolve the issue, the baht keeps strengthening, and this is a tough challenge for our tourism industry,” he said.
Thai hotels however continue to raise their rates, believing they can still depend on first-time Asian visitors and repeat visitors.
For David Kevan, a director at Chic Locations UK, his biggest complaint with Thailand and neighbouring destinations such as Vietnam and Cambodia was overdevelopment.
He foresaw many hotels in Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Phuket being turned into condos in the next few years due to oversupply and owners wanting a quick capital return.
In Vietnam, certain resort destinations were “unrecognisable” from five years ago, he said, while Sihanoukville in Cambodia “is a disaster on every level unless your focus is on low-end Chinese sex and gambling tourism.”
The Tourism Authority of Thailand forecast that arrivals from the UK to Thailand would decline slightly to 950,000 this year, from 954,000 last year.
Kasikorn Research Centre expected the European market to Thailand to decline 1.5 per cent this year to reach 6.66 million arrivals, with spending to shrink one per cent to 468 billion baht.