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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

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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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Patong

Phuket authorities confirm alcohol ban Sunday (starts midnight) for 24 hours

The Thaiger

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Phuket authorities confirm alcohol ban Sunday (starts midnight) for 24 hours | The Thaiger
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