Connect with us

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket hotels fighting for their lives as domestic tourism fails to support the island

Published

 on 

In the wake of last weekend’s ministerial talkfest and discussions with local industry players on the island, Bill Barnett paints a bleak picture of a tourist island in freefall. All the shops, restaurants and hotels can’t remain empty, or merely keep their doors open with a handful of domestic customers, forever. 

Phuket’s hotel industry is reaching breaking point and drastic economic support from the government will be needed for it to survive the high season. The warning from a slew of industry leaders who fear the island has reached a crucial turning point.

In the wake of the controversial “Phuket Model” international travel reopening scheme, reality is biting back as hotels in Thailand’s leading resort island are unable to sustain operating viability based on domestic tourism. 

According to the Airports of Thailand, passenger arrivals at the aviation gateway have plunged 65% year-on-year from January through July of this year. 

Phuket hotels fighting for their lives as domestic tourism fails to support the island | News by Thaiger

What is clear is that the 86,000 rooms in Phuket’s registered accommodation establishments cannot realistically break-even or even be cash-flow positive with only domestic demand. This realistically could set the scene for 50,000 job losses in the hotel sector this year if there’s no support forth coming or international visitors are not allowed in.

One of the green shoots is the Alternative Local State Quarantine program, with over 60 island properties applying. While this program is meant to emulate the ASQ program in Bangkok, given there are no direct international flights to Phuket, the government needs wider support of a return of international travellers at a local level and implement inter-ministerial coordination before it could materialise. But this may take months. 

Anthony Lark, President of the Phuket Hotels Association that represents 78 hotels in Phuket said: “The math simply doesn’t work with single-digit occupancies being reported. No amount of induced local demand can prevent the dramatic continued loss of jobs and rapidly eroding financial crisis for owners and operators. We strongly advocate a safe, pragmatic, and strategic reopening for foreign travellers.”

Phuket hotels fighting for their lives as domestic tourism fails to support the island | News by Thaiger

With tourism being the lead economic indicator in Phuket data newly released by hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks reveals the Covid-19 impact on the hotel development pipeline with 69% of hotels now being delayed or put on hold. Looking at the economic consequences, at the end of 2019, there were 1,758 licensed accommodation establishments on the island and today incoming projects stand at 58 hotels, representing a 19% rise in supply with 16,476 additional rooms planned.  

C9 Hotelworks Managing Director Bill Barnett said: “Thailand’s failure to relaunch overseas tourism creates a dangerously perilous scenario for Phuket’s hospitality industry. The domino financial impact is not only on hotels and the expanded tourism sector, but it suffocates the development pipeline. This will negatively trigger the erosion of jobs in construction, real estate, retail and ultimately be manifested in consumer credit defaults. The situation is bad, and likely to get worse, as operating hotels remaining incur losses day in and day out.” 

In terms of updating the Phuket hotel situation on the ground, there continues to be much controversy and a lack of national and local consensus over the proposed “Safe and Sealed’ sandbox long-stay program. While a stark warning was issued last week by the Bank of Thailand over the potential disruption to the heavily tourism-dependent country, the fate of Phuket’s coming high season remains very challenged.

Citing a way forward C9’s Bill Barnett commented: “Any reopening plan must not only be well planned but has to win the hearts and minds of the Thai people to see any chance of success. While the island may hold the keys to the Kingdom in leading a restoration of tourism, but the more critical issue is how hotels can fight for their lives in the current state of limbo.” 

Phuket hotels fighting for their lives as domestic tourism fails to support the island | News by Thaiger

Speaking about Phuket’s current situation Anthony Lark added: “Firstly, greater proactive dialogue between the public and private sector has to be undertaken. We can’t simply say we are now in unknown territory forever. Steps must be taken and a single voice formed.

“Secondly, the Bank of Thailand has to look at interim measures to assist hotels with short-term operating bridge loans to weather the storm and retain jobs. Tourism is a human endeavor and without protecting and nurturing our Thai workforce there will be no recovery.”

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand12 mins ago

ฺThai boxer blackmails 20 women into sending nude pics

World27 mins ago

South Korea gives North Korea a warning

Visa56 mins ago

Philippines offers attractive alternative to Thailand’s 10 year LTR visa

Phuket1 hour ago

Thousands join Chinese ceremony at Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Bang Sue’s Central Vaccination Centre officially closed

Thailand2 hours ago

Nuan the cat feline good about upcoming APEC meeting

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Weather2 hours ago

Bangkok area flood caused by 100 sandbags in drain

Thailand2 hours ago

VIDEO: Shooting range employees save man from suicide in northern Thailand

Crime2 hours ago

Gold necklace theft on Pattaya Beach Road

Phang Nga3 hours ago

Japanese man drowns near Phang Nga resort

Thailand4 hours ago

Foreigners anger Chiang Mai locals for kissing in temple

Transport4 hours ago

Korean Air resumes two routes to Thailand

Road deaths5 hours ago

16 year old driving BMW crashes, killing young graduate in northeast Thailand

Bangkok5 hours ago

Murdered woman buried in 7 bags under expressway

Tourism5 hours ago

Maya Bay reopens once again to the public

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending