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Phuket’s tourist bookings looking good – Diversity is the best option Part 3

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s tourist bookings looking good – Diversity is the best option Part 3 | The Thaiger
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by Guest Writer

Over the past few months or so, we have read and noted much negativity in the world of tourism to Thailand’s most popular island of Phuket. As everyone is aware, May and June were particularly poor months for most tourism operators and hoteliers with several factors being mentioned to justify the drop which everyone is fully aware of for sure!

Questions with regards to statistics were flying around but once you actually break them down into months, nationalities and so on, we were in positive territory from January until April.

But statistics published included May and June which gave a different appearance when compared ‘year to date’. May and June were very good months for tourism to Phuket in 2018 so set a high target to reach this year.

A recent meeting here in Phuket was addressed by Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, Senator and former Minister of Tourism and Sports who advised us that the private sector should start to generate statistics locally.

Businesses based here on the island who are directly involved with tourism and can both collect and analyse statistics more clearly and objectively. Collecting data which directly affects the island will be of great help in the future and provide a more defined picture of the actual situation. After all Phuket is a unique island!

A clear example is the number of arrivals into Phuket International Airport. Figures show 60% are now FIT (independent travellers) visitors arriving into Phuket which is an increase but where are the visitors actually going after arriving?– other provinces, staying in Airbnb accommodation, homestays, private homes? There has certainly been a shift away from ‘traditional’ accommodations and some of the previously most popular locations.

It has been very positive to hear that from mid-August and especially September figures are now moving nicely with a good pick up of reservations currently on hand. For example, our resorts are now already showing ‘on the books’ figures higher than we ‘closed’ the month of September in 2018 which is very encouraging to see. Traditionally September is one of the quietest months of the year. Some of our Chinese partners have been asking for more rooms as their holiday season starts which is very positive and more traditional ‘low season’ tour operators’ supporters too.

Contracting for the coming high season has been brisk with all now completed and it is encouraging to see the continued increase in request for rooms this coming season.We have even now managed to secure contracts well into 2021 for some markets and several groups well into 2020 already secured.

It is true that some markets have consolidated their hotel/resort inventories but are confident that guest numbers will remain or even increase on previous seasons.Guest expectations and requirements too change ‘year on year’ and many tour operators welcome this to ensure they maintain their loyal customers and keep a fresh look in their brochures which encourage new visitors to come and experience Thailand.

A definite increase in family accommodation requirements has been seen in contracts this year plus hotels and resorts which have be awarded accredited environmental awards. Movement between beaches too has been seen with some of the traditional ‘round trip tours’ from Europe and Australia looking to try new beaches as their guest mix also changes.

So, time to smile again as we move nearer and nearer to the next high season plus a chance to reflect on the lows of the past months and ensure that everyone works together to welcome visitors ‘safe and sound’ and let them enjoy hassle-free and memorable holidays here in the land of smiles.

Read Part 1 of the ‘Diversity’ articles HERE.

And Part II HERE.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket in a Covid Crisis – VIDEO

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Phuket in a Covid Crisis – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Phuket is facing an existential crisis. Because of its semi-isolation as an island, it doesn’t get much “passing traffic” and is too far away from Bangkok to attract much ‘weekend’ business. Whilst the borders stay closed the island’s businesses face ruin.

A year ago, the streets of this tourist island were brimming with a diverse international tourism mix. In fact the island had become one of the most popular tropical island destinations in the world, catering for both the high end, the back-packers and just about everything in between.

But nearly 9 months into a global coronavirus pandemic, things are now very, very different.

Since Thailand’s borders were closed, Thailand’s tourist magnets, including the southern island of Phuket, have faced the prospect of at least a short to medium term future without any means to run their businesses. Each of these shops is an individual, maybe a family, friends, employees, a landlord… all suddenly cut off from an income. Their sin, choosing to run a business, and pay hefty rents for the pleasure, in areas where tourists wanted to visit.

In the case of Phuket, which previously attracted 8-10 million international visitors a year, its cash lifeline, probably more than 90% of its economy, has been cut off.

The provincial government has done little, can do little, to help. The Thai government has had a round of cash handouts for people losing their job, but, in many cases, these have either been negligible and in some cases, never turned up. Either way, none of the government’s stimulus has been able to do much to help the island find a new pathway to re-open all these businesses.

As for Phuket’s 2,000 or so hotels and guesthouses, most of them still have their doors locked, some even completely vacated without even maintenance staff. The prospect of their survival, on domestic tourism alone, is impossible – Phuket, just too far away from the country’s population centres to get any passing or weekend traffic.

The island’s east coast, where many of the Thai’s live and the established families have their businesses, have burst back to life following the lifting of lockdown provisions in May and June this year. But a drive through the west coast towns looks more like the set of a dystopian Hollywood set, bereft of tourists, locals, and empty streets lined with row after row of shuttered shops.

This isn’t an exaggeration, this is how it is, and has been for months with little hope of the situation improving any time soon.

The businesspeople here followed the government’s demands to close up shop and lockdown for 6 week in March and April. A 6 week interruption to their businesses would be bad enough. But, here we are, 6 months later and the situation remains bleak.

In fact most of the owners and employees of these businesses have stripped their shops, left the island and headed back to their homes.

For the locals, who call Phuket home, they’ve had to find a new life, a new job and make a new start, often helped along by the kindness of strangers and the island’s expat community.

Thailand’s travel and hospitality industries, and they ARE industries, especially on an island like Phuket, are now in a perpetual limbo. Whilst everyone is happy to see a development like the Special Tourist Visa, it is not even a remotely sustainable model for Thailand’s tourism industry beyond the immediate short-term and will do little get these shops open again.

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Phuket

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

A newborn baby was found on a bench at a neighborhood by Phuket’s Patong Road. The baby boy was wrapped in cloth and left inside a reusable shopping bag. The bag also had a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing.

A woman walking by early in the morning heard the baby crying. She followed the cries and found the baby on the bench. She called police and calmed the baby, feeding him milk that was left in the bag.

Police took the baby to the Patong Hospital. The baby, about a week old, is in good health, police say.

“Police and rescue workers together rushed to the scene and called Patong Hospital to have a medical team meet us there … This baby is healthy and does not appear to have suffered any injuries. He is now safe and being cared for at Patong Hospital.”

Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage to see if they can track down the mother, or whoever left the baby behind.

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Weather

Strong wind and waves this morning closes Phuket’s beaches, one swimmer rescued

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Strong wind and waves this morning closes Phuket’s beaches, one swimmer rescued | The Thaiger

Phuket’s Rawai Mayor, Aroon Solos, ordered all beaches in the area to close after a foreigner was rescued this morning after being unable to make it back to shore. The foreigner was swimming off Ao Sane beach, just north of the popular Nai Harn Beach, when lifeguards were sent out to help bring him back to shore. The recent weather has been partly attributed to Tropical Storm Noul as other beaches areas around Patong have been closed since Friday.

Mayor Aroon ordered both the Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches closed until further notice.

Noul crossed over the Vietnamese coastline in the early hours of Friday morning and tracked westwards into Laos, then Thailand’s north east, dragging in moisture from the Indian Ocean and intensifying the south-west monsoon.

The Chief of the Cherngtalay Tambon says that, once weather is more stable, the island’s beaches will reopen.

“All beaches in our area, Surin Beach, Bang Tao beach and other beaches, are closed today. We will reopen them when the weather improves.” Strong winds have contributed to falling trees and power outages across the island with one tree falling on the island’s main traffic artery, Thepkasattri Road, blocking traffic.

Officials are also warning road travellers to drive carefully after a car reportedly flipped over yesterday during wet conditions. The Thai Meteorological Department has also re-issued a weather warning today, saying that Noul has been now downgraded from a Category 3 tropical storm to a tropical depression.

The remnants of Noul currently sit over the Kancanaburi province after surging through Thailand’s north eastern and central provinces earlier today.

“Strong wind waves are likely in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. In the upper portion of both seas, the waves will be likely 2-4 meters high and more than 4 meters high in thundershowers. In the lower portion, the waves will be likely about 2 meters and in thundershower areas more than 3 meters high. All ships keep ashore through 20 September.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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