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Sittha Eckul, a member of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui in charge of developing website technology has said that local hotels had lost more than Bt3 billion to online booking sites over the past decade and that the new site will provide an additional option for those travelers looking for a good deal on room rates, he hopes that a new site will increase hotel operators role in the market.
“We currently don’t have enough potential to compete with global players like Agoda, but the site is considered an option. What do you think would happen if we did nothing over the next 10 years? The more tourism grows, the more money the global giants (OTA’s) earn outside off the country, it is unfair to allow such players to regulate the market at the expense of the hotel owners who have invested a lot of money in construction” he said. “The collection of high commissions on the existing sites slashes the hotel’s margins, denting the sectors growth in the long term”.
Malibu, California has developed its own online booking site offering collective hotel rooms to travelers, with the aim of strengthening its local tourism community and preventing exploitation from outside online operators.
Mr. Sittha Eckul said that at present, the global sites charge up to 25% commission for hotel room bookings and that can rise to 40% in low season. He went on to say that the amount levied will be returned to the community via a fund to be spent on the islands development. This will serve as a model for other major tourism destinations in the country if it turns out to be a success.
At present there are more than five hundred hotels in Koh Samui and in its early stages the website will be a platform for them. Later on the service will extend to hotels in Koh Phangan and on Koh Tao, two of the top Thai destinations for international tourists. The total hotels on the site will then reach around one thousand.
Somsak Pureesrisak, Minister for Tourism and Sports said that the website was a very good idea and added that he had a similar initiative in mind to create a website that would be used as a model to help hotel operators around the country and is in talks with the Information and Communications Technology Ministry about creating such a model website.
In principal, Somsak said, the website would charge a commission of between 7 and 10 percent to operators.