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Restaurants take a soaking

The country’s restaurant business is expected to lose about 15 billion baht because of the heavy floods, according to the Thai Restaurant Association (TRA).

President Pavornwan Kulmongkul said thousands of restaurants had been submerged. Of the total, 500 are in Pathum Thani, 200 in Ayutthaya and 300 to 500 in Bangkok, mainly in Thawi Watthana district.

Despite the improving situation in many areas of Bangkok, TRA member restaurants in affected areas cannot reopen yet.

Among the losses, 6-7 billion baht is asset damage and the remaining 8 billion stems from loss of sales.

“If the flooding situation is not resolved now, our member restaurants cannot reopen before year-end,” Mrs Pavornwan said. “Each restaurant needs about one month to repair or improve its premises.”

The normal peak season for the restaurant business is November and December. Flood-hit restaurants risk losing big sales during the festive season.

Moreover, some restaurant operators will be withdrawing from the market because they face difficulties finding new locations safe from floods.

“Several operators don’t want to reopen in the same location because they’re not sure whether the flooding will happen again next year,” she said. “If they want to find a new place, it’s not easy as well.”

Even restaurants spared from flooding have seen declining sales, as people seem to be in no mood to dine out.

For example, Mrs Pavornwan said her restaurant at Parliament House used to earn 3 million baht in sales per month; now it takes in 300,000 to 400,000.

She said the association was asking the government for soft loans with low interest rates to revive business.

Until now, the restaurant operators needed the government to provide clear information about the flooding situation in order to know when to restart their operations.

Mrs Pavornwan said the government put its effort into protecting the Rama II area and moving the floodwaters to the sea as quickly as possible. But it forgot to revive many businesses in the existing flood-hit areas such as Pathum Thani, underwater for more than two months.

“Right now, I still don’t see any financial institutions or banks introducing interesting rehabilitation loan schemes to help us,” she said.

At this moment, TRA members have tried to help themselves by exchanging staff with active restaurant members in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin.

The association expects the value of Thailand’s restaurant business this year to decline by 10-15%.

Source: Bangkok Post

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