Thai Developer Bets on Phuket Reopening for Return of Investors

WHA Corp., Thailand’s largest industrial estate operator, expects land sales to rebound in the second half as it plans to use the limited reopening of the resort island of Phuket next month to bring in prospective foreign investors.

The company is in talks with clients for their entry into Thailand through Phuket as the nation’s borders have remained closed to most visitors since the pandemic began, according to David Nardone, group executive for WHA’s industrial-development unit. WHA’s sales have slumped as visitors have been unable to physically survey the commercial plots, he said.

Thailand is set to throw open Phuket to vaccinated foreign visitors without any quarantine from July 1 as the Southeast Asian nation makes a fresh bid to revive its tourism industry. Tourists arriving in Phuket can freely travel across Thailand after spending 14 days on the island. Authorities plan to expand the waiver to other key tourist destinations in the following months.

“You have to get more people to visit” to increase sales, Nardone said. “If the Phuket sandbox is successful, they may ease the minimum stay to one week. That will be positive as one week is no hardship at all.”

WHA expects its land sales to pick up with the easing of travel restrictions and as more people get vaccinated. The company is targeting sales of 775 rai (124 hectares) in Thailand this year and 258 rai in Vietnam, Nardone said. In the first quarter, WHA sold 188 rai in Thailand and 25 in Vietnam, it said on its website.

Other key points from the interview:

  • Demand for industrial land remains high from companies in China and Taiwan as they seek to diversify production to other countries like Thailand and Vietnam
  • Chinese and Taiwanese investors expected to make up more than half of WHA’s land sales target this year
  • If Thailand delays reopening beyond Oct. 1, WHA will find it difficult to meet sales target
  • WHA expects land sales to return to normal level of more than 1,000 rai per year in 2022, boosted by pent-up demand created during the outbreak

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