The overall tourism industry in Hua Hin is slowing down but boutique hotels, which attract European travellers, are doing better than the market.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Intelligence Centre reported that the average hotel occupancy rate in Prachuap Khiri Khan, mainly contributed by Hua Hin, was 55-65% in the first four months of this year compared with 67-70% in the same period the year before. The number of trips fell 21% to 1.55 million and tourism revenue dropped 19% to 8.92 billion baht in the first four months. Revenue from international tourists declined 13% to 3.39 billion baht while revenue from domestic travel went down 22% to 5.57 billion baht. Supawan Tanomkieatipume, President of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said Hua Hin is a popular destination among European travellers because of its quiet beaches and generally safe image. Nearly 700 rooms are expected to be added by 2018 with the building of new hotels. The sharp rise in condominium projects is also biting into the hotel sector.
The hotel market in Hua Hin is nearly in oversupply like other destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. Hotels also have to compete with condominiums which offer cheaper rates and larger room space, Competition in Hua Hin is getting more intense and the economic downturn both in Thailand and globally has reduced the overall tourism industry in the resort town. The THA said the average hotel occupancy rate in Hua Hin was 60-70% in the first quarter However, boutique hotels are still faring well with an occupancy rate of some higher than 90% despite relatively high room rates.
Boutique hotels may have different and more flexible marketing approaches. Targeting European visitors means that guests are likely to spend more and stay longer; 5.5 days compared with the one or two nights stay on weekends by Thai travellers. In Hua Hin, there are 13 boutique hotels with 40-118 rooms, each managed by Thais. The past year has seen the advent of big hotels from international chains. As a result, competition in the higher-end market has become tougher.