Thailand’s hotel industry has just recorded its best overall occupancy rate for 20 years with visitor arrivals nudging 30 million, driven by demand from mainland China.

The overall occupancy for 2015 for the country was 73.4%, according to STR Global, up 13.6% over the previous year.

December was particularly strong with average occupancy reaching 77.4% – the highest since 1995.

Thailand hotel 20 year performance chart from STR Global

Bill Barnett, MD of C9 HotelWorks, says that Thailand’s notoriously volatile tourism industry means hoteliers are looking to the future with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

“I think everyone can feel the buzz,” he said at the recent Thailand Tourism Forum.

“There is palpable excitement in the industry tinged with the uncertainty of not knowing what is around the corner.

“This is a very dynamic operating environment as Thailand works out what life is like after 30.”

Looking ahead the challenge is to increase average daily rates through 2016.

Jesper Palmqvist from STR Global says rates have been much more stable than occupancy in Thailand over the past 20 years.

“The ability of Thailand hotels hold rates in times of demand adversity is historically proven over the past two decades, and it’s more a question in 2016 about trying to push rates higher overall for increased profitability,” Palmquist said.

“The only real negative impact came from the Global Financial Crisis and the ensuing political challenges in 2008-2010.

Thailand hotel ADR 20 year performance chart

“Since 2010 we’ve generally seen consistent growth again, even though 2015 stayed pretty much flat compared to 2014 – but this was in fact a decent show of strength in light of the severe occupancy changes from 2014 to 2015,” Palmquist said.

“Although we did not see a new record level for overall Thailand ADR in 2015, this high watermark remains year-end data for 2008, it was now closer than ever and the market seems hopeful to achieve a new historic record level in 2016.”

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