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Thai hotel operator Central Plaza plans to launch eight hotels in 2021

BANGKOK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Thai hotelier Central Plaza Hotel Pcl on Friday said it would move ahead with plans to launch eight hotels across seven countries this year, counting on eased travel restrictions as coronavirus vaccinations are unrolled.

“It’s our hope that by the third quarter, with vaccinations underway, that travellers with vaccination passports will be able to come to Thailand and not have to do quarantine,” deputy chief executive Markland Blaiklock, told Reuters.

He also expects “pent-up demand” for travel from markets like Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea.

Thailand’s tourism industry has been decimated by travel restrictions due to the pandemic with just 6.7 million foreign arrivals last year, compared to nearly 40 million in 2019.

Optimism about vaccinations sent shares of Central Plaza Hotel up over 10.28% and rival hotel operator, Erawan Group Pcl 9.74% at 0935 GMT on Friday.

Thailand, which has yet to begin inoculations, expects to import initial doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this month. It has also ordered 26 million doses to be produced locally with an additional order for 35 million.

China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd will also start delivering its vaccine to Thailand this month.

This week, hotel and tour operators on the resort island of Phuket said they would undertake a private vaccination drive to inoculate 70% of its residents and urged the government to issue a clear policy over “vaccination passports.”

Central Plaza plans to reopen a hotel in the Thai island of Samui in April, targeting domestic customers, he said.

Other launches include a 984-room hotel in Vietnam’s beach resort of Mui Ne and properties in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar and two locations in Laos.

In the fourth quarter, it plans to re-open a 77-room hotel in Myanmar where it has a management contract.

“Thus far we have not been notified of change of plans with respect to this owner,” he said referring to the recent military coup in Myanmar, adding that demand should return when the situation is under control. (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng Editing by Ed Davies)

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