Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New lifestyle mall poised for Chiang Mai revival

Renova Group, owned by a member of Sosothikul family that founded Seacon Square, recently opened its first lifestyle shopping mall in the northern tourist destination Chiang Mai. Patarin Sosothikul, the company's managing director, said Renova had spent 100 million baht to develop Viang Panna, located on a seven-rai plot in San Kamphaeng district.

Viang Panna houses 20 small shops in almost 1,000 square metres and also has a 1,500-square-metre souvenir centre with more than 100 suppliers. Another 3,000 square metres have been set aside for an outdoor peacock garden.

The company plans to spend another 20 million baht to expand its current souvenir centre by 2,000 square metres to cash in on the expected economic and tourism recovery. The second phase is scheduled to open by the end of next year. It expects to attract 10,000 to 20,000 visitors per day.

Renova hopes to make Viang Panna a hub for novel products and souvenir items in the province.

The company chose to develop a lifestyle mall in Chiang Mai because of the huge potential. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, about 5.3 million tourists visit the province each year. Tourism generates 38 billion baht in revenue to the province. Tourists spend 15-20% of their money on souvenir products.

As well, the government plans to promote Chiang Mai as a medical hub as well as a prime destination for the Mice (meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition) business.

"There are many lifestyle shops available in Chiang Mai but nobody offers the type of one-stop shopping service that Viang Panna does, with fashion, gift shops, souvenir shops and a peacock garden under one roof," said Ms Patarin.

The company believes Viang Panna will become one of the province's tourist destinations in the near future, she added.

Ms Patarin said market response in the mall's first month of operations had been better than expectations. The company expects to break even within five to seven years.
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