As Thailand continues to recover as a travel destination following the pandemic, the hospitality sector is seeing new rules with the introduction of a modified version of the Ministerial Regulation Regarding the Types and Criteria for Hotel Business Operations No.2 B.E. 2566 (2023) on 30 October 2023.
This is a welcome change as the landscape of the tourism and hospitality sector has undergone significant transformation in recent years, moving away from traditional dominance by hotels and resorts to a more diverse selection of options. These include homestays, hostels, and accommodations that are not located in buildings such as camping grounds and trailers.
As travelers increasingly seek unique experiences and value flexibility, affordability, and making a direct impact on local communities, it is important to adapt relevant laws to suit the current realities of the industry.
What changes have been made?
Under the previous version of the regulation, any short-term accommodation providing hotel services with more than four rooms and capable of accommodating 20 guests was classified as a “Hotel,” which meant being legally required to obtain a Hotel License. The new law introduces a new definition for “non-hotel accommodations” by expanding the threshold to eight rooms and 30 guests. Additionally, the new regulation outlines criteria for various accommodation types, including tents, rafts, and hostels.
In practical terms, this means that smaller-scale accommodations no longer need to obtain a license as previously required. However, they are still required to notify and register their activities with the Official Registrar.
Mind the registration expiration
Prior to the amendments, there was no specified expiration for the registration of non-hotel accommodations. However, the new regulation introduces a validity period of 5 years. The intention of this change may be for periodic inspections to evaluate the qualifications of non-hotel accommodation when renewing their registration every 5 years.
Small hotels that have previously obtained a Hotel License and now find themselves meeting the new criteria for non-hotel accommodations are allowed to revoke their Hotel License and register as non-hotel accommodations. This action will exempt them from having to comply with the criteria and requirements of a hotel.
As for those who have already notified the Official Registrar as non-hotel accommodations before the enforcement of this new regulation, their registrations will be valid for 5 years from the enforcement date of this regulation. This suggests that all non-hotel accommodations must apply for a renewal of their notification by October 2028.
According to the regulation, an electronic notification channel will also be in place to facilitate the notification process.
What about accommodations that are not in buildings?
As previously mentioned, the revised regulations set specific safety and utility requirements for non-traditional and unconventional accommodation options. Requirements for temporary structures, such as tents and cabins, include sufficient lighting, internal door locks, and an exemption from needing a door peephole. Hostels must provide ample bathroom facilities, with each bed clearly labeled; while floating hotels, like rafts or boats, must adhere to safety measures, including providing life jackets that correspond to the number of guests per room, installing secure guardrails and sufficient lighting, placing fire extinguishers strategically, and having food waste bins with a minimum capacity of 40 liters (minimum 2 bins per 30 guests). These regulations aim to enhance safety, comfort, and quality in unique accommodations; addressing aspects not fully covered by previous laws.
Seizing opportunities through regulatory support
The newly introduced regulations offer expanded opportunities for smaller-scale accommodations to operate legally without needing to apply for a Hotel License. It is crucial to emphasize that the primary objective of these regulations is to benefit non-traditional accommodation services, many of which boast unique and culturally valuable characteristics that attract tourists and generate income for the communities.
Do you have a hospitality business in Thailand or looking to set one up? We handle matters ranging from company formation to the acquisition of various licenses and permits. For more information about this regulatory change, please contact us at [email protected]. You can find out more about our corporate services here.