Mon, 11 Sep 2000

Uniform hotel pricing sought for ASEAN region

JAKARTA (JP): The Association of Regional Hotel and Restaurant Operators met here on Saturday to explore the possibility of establishing uniform pricing for hotels in the region.

Chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHRA) Feisol Hashim said after the opening ceremony of the one-day meeting that standard pricing was vital to prevent the industry from dying out. This, he said, was owing to unhealthy competition, and to prepare it for globalization, where competition could be fiercer.

He said hotels applying out-of-market prices in the region would eventually kill off the industry.

Feisol cited hotel prices in Phuket, Thailand, which began at US$200, and in Bali, Indonesia, which started at less than $60.

"How long can they (hotels in Phuket) last? Soon people won't want to go there because prices are too high," Feisol said, adding that lower pricing, on the other hand, would create a negative image.

"$60 is too cheap, people won't believe the product is of high quality," he said.

Feisol said a reasonable price for a room at a five-star hotel was between $130 and $150.

He noted that Indonesian hotels had knocked down prices because of the need for funds for operational costs and to pay bank interest.

As a result, five-star hotels reduced their rates to those of three-star establishments and forced smaller hotels to close down, Feisol said.

Bigger hotels would concentrate more on making money instead of its core business of hospitality, he added.

Feisol said competition should be in terms of services, quality of the product and the quality and standard of human resources, not prices that would eventually destroy the industry.

The meeting was attended by delegates from Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The AHRA meeting was part of a series of meetings addressing the problems in the tourism industry. It began on Friday and will continue until Sunday.

The meetings include the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (IHRA) national congress, the Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association Asia-Pacific Alliance (UAPA) meeting, the Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations (FATA) and ASEAN airlines' board meeting, AHRA board meeting and ASEAN Travel Association (ASEANTA) board meeting.

At the same location, a tourism expo, Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo (TIME 2000), will be officially opened by the Minister of Culture and Tourism I Gede Ardika on Monday.

Chairwoman of the event Meity Robot said on Saturday the number of foreign participants had jumped to 124 companies from only 109 last week, and local sellers to 155 companies from 142.

"Seeing the level of commitment shown by foreign buyers, we are optimistic that Indonesian tourism will be much improved in the future," she said in a media conference, adding that the higher level of foreign tourists entering the country during the last six months was partly due to the success of the 1999 Travel Mart.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, visitor arrivals between January and July reached 2.8 million compared to 4.7 million during all of 1999.

Meity said she hoped the mart would bring in at least $10 million worth of contracts for Indonesia, a rise from $8.7 million in 1999. (10)