Koh SamuiThailandTourism

Koh Samui needs more direct flights to boost post-pandemic recovery

Koh Samui Tourism Association chief is urging authorities to enhance the island’s tourist infrastructure and increase flight capacity to boost a full post-pandemic recovery of the popular holiday resort.

Association president Ratchaporn Poolsawadee revealed that only 70% of independent hotels with three or four-star have resumed operations following the pandemic. This is due to slow cash flow in comparison to hotels operated by international chains. In some cases, resuming hotel operations can cost as much as starting a new business, reported Bangkok Post.

The limited seat capacity on flights to the island has also impacted the market, with only 30 to 44 flights per day serving routes to Koh Samui. Ratchaporn is calling for the number of flights to return to pre-pandemic levels of 50 per day, to attract more tourists to the island.

While Koh Samui recently welcomed the first Chinese groups via chartered flights from Chengdu, Ratchaporn noted that costly airfares to the island mean that most Chinese tourists are likely to be independent travellers. He added that the island is currently facing issues with tourism congestion in certain areas, such as Bo Put and Chaweng, with hotel bookings in these areas much stronger than in others.

Ratchaporn highlighted that one of the biggest challenges is stimulating tourist flow to other beaches and equipping local operators with marketing skills. Ratchaporn said…

“The public sector should strictly regulate safety and security measures for tourists, including preventing taxi scams and road accidents.

“The construction of mass transport networks is also needed because it could help attract new investment in the future.”

At ITB Berlin 2023, Ratchaporn revealed that 27 tourism operators from Surat Thani joined the event. He highlighted that Koh Samui tourism is targeting Europe, with a focus on the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Germany, France, the UK and Russia.

Ratchaporn said hotel operators on the island are targetting for a 50-60% occupancy rate this month, after a surge to 80-90% in the first two months of the year, mainly due to guests arriving from France, Germany, the UK and Russia. He added that the average room rate in Koh Samui is currently 10-20% lower than the level recorded before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Vijvut Tjinto, Governor of Surat Thani, expects tourist arrivals on the three islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao to recover to pre-pandemic levels of 2.5 million this year. This recovery will be driven by pent-up demand and a gradual increase in flights to Samui and Surat Thani, he explained.

Vijvut also noted that the province is working with the Department of Employment to recruit staff who left the industry during the pandemic, in an effort to resolve labour shortages.

The governor emphasized that the province follows safety standards and offers security services to tourists, including at the famous Full Moon parties on Koh Pha Ngan.

Koh Samui needs more direct flights to boost post-pandemic recovery | News by Thaiger

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia, mostly in China. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.