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Founders launch Thai version of travel site

The creators of travelmob.com, a website that offers accommodation options for travellers in the Asia-Pacific region, launched its Thai-language version, th.travelmob.com, yesterday in a move to cash in on Thailand's growing property market and tourism industry.

Based in Singapore, the website was founded by Indonesian national Turochas Fuad and Indian citizen Prashant Kirtane.

Travelmob.com acts as a broker between property owners and customers, providing a secure platform for people in the region to list free of charge their spare rooms, entire apartments or vacation villas for short-term rental, with service fees being collected only when an actual booking is made.

Fuad and Kirtane, who formerly worked for Yahoo, said they expected the website to get a big response not just in Thailand but in the Asia-Pacific region. It may take some time for the concept to catch on because even though it has been used for several years in the West, it is still new in this part of the world.

However, citing a report conducted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), they said the number of foreign arrivals in the Asia-Pacific region had grown by 10 per cent in March year on year, and by 15 per cent in Southeast Asia alone.

China, India and Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia and Thailand, are starting to show big business potential thanks to a rising middle-class population, the pair said. In China, up to 25 million middle-income earners emerge every year, while in Indonesia the number is expected to reach 60 million soon.

This means that more people with higher purchasing power are keen to travel.

At present, the holiday rental market in the Asia-Pacific region is worth about US$6 billion (Bt188 billion) and is expected to rise to $10 billion over the next few years.

Fuad and Kirtane said their website was different from hotel-booking sites such as agoda.com because it allowed travellers to stay within local communities at prices ranging from a $20 room in Hanoi to an Bt8,000-a-night villa in Phuket.

The website is also available in Vietnamese, Indonesian and Chinese, with new languages to be added in the future.

Since Phuket is still one of the |most popular destinations in the region, Fuad flew to the resort island yesterday to present his business concept to the local media and property owners.






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