Koh Samui looks for extended airport hours amid tourism surge

Image courtesy of Anthony Delanoix/Unsplash

Tourism operators in Koh Samui are anticipating a surge in European visitors as the high season for the Gulf of Thailand approaches, advocating for extended operating hours at Samui airport to accommodate 20 additional daily flights, potentially boosting tourist numbers by 10 to 20%.

President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, highlighted expectations for a complete recovery this high season, primarily due to the resumption of all flights at Samui airport.

The primary source markets include Germany, the UK, France, and Australia. Foreign tourists are staying longer on the island, thanks to a visa extension policy allowing stays of up to 60 days for visitors from 93 countries.

Ratchaporn mentioned that increased flights to Surat Thani Airport and ferry services are anticipated to drive hotel occupancy rates to 80 to 90% in July and August, traditionally the peak period for the Gulf of Thailand. He predicts the annual full moon party to attract a significant number of visitors to the southern island.

“The full moon party at Koh Pha Ngan is expected to draw over 50,000 visitors per event during the high season.”

Last month’s Pride Nation Samui International festival has already helped promote the island ahead of the peak season.

Inadequate to demands

There are about 30,000 rooms available on Samui, which might suffice for the incoming tourists. However, Ratchaporn pointed out that the existing transport infrastructure, especially the airport’s capacity and boat supplies, is inadequate to meet the growing demand.

Samui Airport currently operates from 7am to 10pm and can handle around 50 flights daily.

A public hearing is scheduled at the end of July to discuss with locals and stakeholders the possibility of extending the airport’s operating hours by 30 minutes to an hour in the early morning and late night.

A study indicates that the airport could manage up to 73 daily flights, potentially bringing in 2,000 extra tourists each day. Ratchaporn estimated a 10 to 20% increase in visitors from the 3.4 million recorded last year.

Three ferry operators, each owning 10 boats, are expanding their fleets to meet the higher demand.

The government is considering lifting the ban on alcohol sales from 2pm to 5pm, which Ratchaporn believes would boost tourist spending.

“Easing the alcohol sales restriction should be coupled with limiting drinking to private areas and strictly enforcing the law to ensure road safety and prevent crimes.”

Following the extension of operating hours for bars and entertainment venues until 4am, both public and private sectors have demonstrated their capability to manage safety issues effectively, reported Bangkok Post.

Thailand NewsTourism News

Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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