FIG Peer Review Journal


Parking Variance: New Legal Paradigm for Bangkok Hotel Development (4870)

Ponn Virulrak (Thailand)
Dr. Ponn Virulrak
Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University
Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University
254 Phyathai Road, Patuumwan District
Corresponding author Dr. Ponn Virulrak (email: virulrak[at], tel.: + 66 8 9 5091638)

[ abstract ] [ paper ] [ handouts ]

Published on the web 2012-03-08
Received 2011-11-01 / Accepted 2012-02-02
This paper is one of selection of papers published for the FIG Working Week 2012 in Rome, Italy and has undergone the FIG Peer Review Process.

FIG Working Week 2012
ISBN 97887-90907-98-3 ISSN 2307-4086


Tourism has been a major economic sector of Thailand since the early 1980’s. The growth of industry has not only contributed to the nation’s development but has also been responsible for the creation of jobs, income and career paths of many who work in related businesses within the industry. One of the most important businesses that depend on tourism is hotels. Considered one of the favorite choices of businesses for Thai entrepreneurs, the number of hotels in the country has increased along with the soaring popularity of Thailand as a world renowned destination. Along with such growth, the government has to impose certain regulations in order to keep the standard of services high and to protect the country’s reputation for tourism which eventually helps maintain the growth of domestic economy. These regulations are continually updated with higher and more stringent requirements. In Thailand today, if one wants to operate a hotel business, they must obtain a hotel business license first. In order to do so, the hotel property that they own has to follow all the requirements. This poses as an obstacle for some hotel owners, especially owners of small businesses, therefore creating the phenomenon of “Outlaw Hotels” which are hotels that operate without license. This phenomenon has become a major problem of the tourism industry. The majority of outlaw hotel owners do not originally intend to act criminally but it is highly unfeasible for them to upgrade their properties to match the stringent regulations required. The toll of the regulations is even more obvious for hotel owners of very small properties with less than 20 rooms. Thai hotel businesses that have become famous and are globally recognized by the very top service minds end up being the businesses which require a large sum of capital to initially invest in the company. This phenomenon, along with the growth of the tourism industry, forces small time entrepreneurs to go underground and operate illegally. One of the most difficult issues for upgrading their standard is the parking requirement for hotel properties. In Thailand, parking requirements are only based on building usage typologies. There is no consideration of parking reduction in any way, even though, in reality, the parking space for hotels that are geared to tourists is hardly utilized. This paper will present the concept of “parking variance,” which is a familiar concept in urban planning from the Western world. The concept of regulations that can be negotiated is very new to Thailand. However, if implemented appropriately, it has the potential to be a great tool that can be beneficial to both hotel developers and the national economy.
Keywords: Real estate development; parking variance; hotel; building code; zoning; Bangkok