But infrastructure development worries
The real estate business in Chiang Mai has grown since
the beginning of the year, reports Watchara Tantranont, president of the
Real Estate Entrepreneur Association of Chiang Mai and Lamphun.
Giving an overview to the Chiang Mai business sector, he
said the reasons behind this included the concept of the city becoming an
aviation hub, construction of an international convention center, and a
variety of tourist attractions, especially the Chiang Mai Zoo’s two
Institutions of higher education, such as Chiang Mai
University, Mae Jo University and other private sector universities had
attracted students from neighboring countries like Laos, Vietnam and
Myanmar. Health care facilities in Chiang Mai, including government and
private hospitals, as well as other services such as foot massage or spa
parlors, also attracted people from other places.
An increasing number of people from other provinces and
other countries had bought land and had houses built in real estate projects
in Chiang Mai. Foreign nationals had over 10 percent of houses in such
There were 20,000 foreigners residing permanently in the
Upper North, which included Asians - Japanese and Koreans, Europeans -
Germans, Italians, and French as well as Australians.
The real estate business could be divided into two
sectors: residential estates and areas for commercial purposes. In the
former, several condominiums were developed along Huay Kaew Road.
There had been a revitalization in commercial estate,
evident by the construction of many dormitories and mini-stores. In
addition, more foreigners, especially Japanese, had come to do business in
Interest rates were at acceptable levels for buyers, and
homes were affordable. In the next three years, Watchara predicted that at
least 300,000 people from other provinces, and foreigners, would come to buy
houses and land.
More Thais from the South will move to the North and buy
houses “Because Chiang Mai is the center of so many things”, he said.
People having a keen eye on business opportunities would rush in, he
Watchara conceded a major concern was that the city might
grow too fast. Its infrastructure and public utilities, such as water and
the electric power and road systems, would not be able to cope.
Unless these issues were resolved simultaneously with the
economic growth, some problems will certainly arise, Watchara predicted.
Thailand’s spa businesses believe that rising airfares
are unlikely to affect the number of tourists visiting Thailand for spa and
other health services. Foreign tourists attracted by Thailand’s spa and
health facilities are a niche group who are relatively well-off, and
unlikely to be affected by the increase in airfare as a result of rising
world oil prices, according to the president of the Confederation of Thai
Spa, Paiboon Pilanth-Ovas.
Thai spa businesses have been booming recently due to
three advantages - much lower prices than rivals in other countries, better
services with the touch of Thai hospitality, and a very competitive quality
of both services and materials used.
The sector is currently growing at 30% this year,
compared to last year, and its earnings are valued at nearly four billion
baht. The Thai spa and health industry has also helped generate 20 billion
baht in revenue through related businesses such as traditional Thai cloth,
local herbal products, and other agricultural products used and being sold
at the country’s spa centers.
The government should help Thailand’s spa businesses
upgrade their standards so as to be able to continue to attract tourists in
the longer run, Paiboon urged. The government and private sector should also
work together to build a special Thai spa concept, and even sell it as a
franchise abroad since this would be an effective way to promote the Thai
spa service world-wide, he suggested.
The Thai government has already announced plans to
develop the country’s spa and health services. The aim is to make Thailand
an Asian hub for these services. (TNA)