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Thailand 2017 | CULTURE & TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Proudputh Liptapanlop and Pasu Liptapanlop, Executive Directors of Proud Real Estate, on the company's development plans for Hua Hin, the prospects of the industry, and their expectations for the future.

Proudputh Liptapanlop
BIOGRAPHY
Proudputh Liptapanlop completed her bachelor's studies in economics and management at the University of Oxford, UK, followed by a master’s from London Business School. In 2010 she served as a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Co, until she became Executive Director at Proud Real Estate.
Pasu Liptapanlop
BIOGRAPHY
Pasu Liptapanlop was educated in the UK, first at the University of Westminster, followed by a master’s in real estate investment from the Cass Business School, London. In 2014 he also founded a financial services firm in Thailand, Elite Securities Co Ltd. Previously Pasu served as Financial Market Sales Director at Standard Chartered as well as FICC Sales Vice President at RBS.

Could you give us an overview of Proud Real Estate's current portfolio and achievements?

Proudputh Liptapanlop As far as Hua Hin is concerned, we see ourselves as a leader in tourism in the area. For visitors looking for quality accommodation; we have the best hotel in Hua Hin, bar none. During their stay, visitors want to visit shopping centers and explore entertainment in the city; we will be opening the biggest one in Hua Hin and the largest water park as well. Anyone who comes into Hua Hin will likely end up using at least one of our properties, so we see the big picture more as planning for the development of Hua Hin as a city, as opposed to one particular project. In operations, we have the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort and the Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Park. We also have a sports center called True Arena Hua Hin and are building a Holiday Inn next to the water park. We are opening a shopping center called BluPort in October 2016, and we are planning for a major push in our second destination, Phuket.

What potential do you see for Hua Hin as the emerging tourist destination in Thailand?

Proudputh According to tourist figures, the top five destinations in Thailand are Phuket, Pattaya, Samui, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. The way we see it there is no reason why Hua Hin cannot join that list; it has everything to become the next world destination for tourism in Thailand. It has a beach, mountains, a national park, and a culture that is unique. The other thing is that with all the logistics projects coming up, including the high-speed train and road improvements, there is plenty of growth. As far as development is concerned, Hua Hin is still behind. It has around 6,000 hotel rooms and a good offering of restaurants; however, there is still plenty of room for growth And because we are a major player in Hua Hin, it gives us a unique opportunity to almost dictate which direction the development should take place.

Is Thailand's tourism market becoming more broad based, and how do you envisage it will look five years from now?

Proudputh Overall, the sector is not becoming more board based; Chinese tourists will be the main market. If anything, when you look at the statistics the Chinese market is obviously the fastest growing one, although it is understood that Russian tourists are coming back in numbers. At a micro level, when you look at operations it depends on the business you are looking at and the location as the strategy would differ. No hotel can just rely on just the Chinese market and everyone needs a broader base depending on seasonality as everyone has a different travel season. The Chinese market will be the biggest market in the next five years; however, the downside with that market is the price pressure. It is important to find the right mix of tourists for your operations.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

PASU Liptapanlop From a project level point of view, we want it to be a success and a project that everyone will talk about. From a corporate point of view, we want to establish ourselves as the leader in the entertainment mixed-use development sector in Thailand. Tourism is a major growth; however, everyone can get into hotels and there is plenty of supply so it is about how you differentiate yourself. Our take is to create a destination within a destination, which is where the entertainment and leisure side of things come in. It gives your hotel and your residences a unique advantage by being next to a crowd magnet such as a water park or shopping center. That is the model that we will continue to pursue; a mixed used development that will be able to draw the tourists in its own right.