It’s still the midst of high season and the tourist numbers here appear to be slightly up from last year according to our informal survey. How long the season will last and how much of a drop we’ll see in the low season are concerns for another day although most businesses in Sukhumvit are not looking forward to a repeat of last year’s dismal performance from May through August. There are signs that the long-term the outlook is good, though, with the political situation calm, the world economy not facing any major problems and western economies, if not robust, at least not moribund.
Since the Chinese tourist market affects the Sukhumvit area hardly at all the rosy numbers put out by the TAT are irrelevant to local businesses. If the TAT could figure out how to get the European, American and Australasia markets to increase like the Asian numbers then everyone in Sukhumvit would be very happy indeed.
Whatever the tourism numbers are here it won’t affect the building trend that has been going on for the last several years as it shows no signs of stopping or even slowing down. And next month we may find out exactly what type of project will be developed on Soi 11, which has the distinction of being home to the most expensive piece of land in the entire kingdom. As reported months ago, the one-rai piece of land on the west side of the street about 80 meters from Sukhumvit Road was sold for the staggering price of two billion baht (about $55 million US).
It’s thought that either a condo or hotel will go up on this piece of high-priced dirt but as of yet no one knows except for the developers. A condo is more likely because of the shorter pay-back time on the investment but until the wrecking balls show up we probably won’t have any idea and that is about six weeks away from the beginning of this month.
Another development in Sukhumvit, albeit not nearly as large, is now starting construction on the site of the former Hemingway’s restaurant on the corner of Sukhumvit Road and Soi 14. The land is cleared and fenced off and digging should start soon. It seems funny to see a flat piece of land where for so many years there was a stately Thai wooden house surrounded by trees but time marches on. There is actually a bit of uncertainty about what is going up here also as it was first reported that a condo would be built but now we’ve heard recently that it may be a hotel. All will be revealed soon, probably in next month’s column judging by the look of things.
And the latest hotel to open in the area – we think – is the Hope Land which is down Soi 8 about two hundred meters on the right. We were puzzled as to why they put a huge sign on the roof of the building where it can’t be seen from the road. Unless, that is, you’re at the end of the soi at Sukhumvit Road. Then it stands out clearly, which must have been the intent of the builders. Everything depends on perspective is the lesson here.