Bali’s loss is Phuket’s gain

PHUKET: Bali’s loss has been Phuket’s gain, it seems, with hotel bookings on the island soaring as holidaymakers and conference organizers switch following the Kuta bombing. A prime indicator is the Phuket.Com hotel booking website, which has seen a huge surge in bookings over the past few days. Neil Cumming, the company’s CEO, told the Gazette, “The big change for us has been in bookings for Christmas and New Year. They’ve suddenly taken off in a big way. This week has been bigger than any other week in our history. “I do think it’s been influenced [by Bali]. People are still thinking they’ll go away at Christmas, and they’re looking for an alternative, so, yes, I do think it’s been a windfall.” He said there had been very few cancellations of bookings for Phuket. “Almost none. We’ve been watching very closely to see if [Bali] would have a big influence. Nobody’s panicked, I think. [Those who booked Phuket] are holding their existing reservations. Those who were going to go to Bali seem to be looking for somewhere else. “Our system was almost overloaded on Tuesday, there were so many people looking for rooms available, and that resulted in a surge in bookings, too.” Hotels confirm the surge, not only in individual bookings but also in conference and seminar booking. Wichit Kietchat, Reservations Officer of Novotel Phuket Resort said, “Before the bomb our occupancy rate was about 80% but afterward it rose almost immediately to 100%. As I understand it, people switched their destination from Bali to Phuket.” Anothai Manpolsri, Reservations Manager of the Phuket Acadia Beach Resort, said that already one conference organized from Britain had been moved from Bali to Phuket, and more were coming. “Since October 12 there has been a rise in the number of conferences booked in our hotel. “I also had a call from an agent that an African seminar group will be here around the end of November, and a Scandinavian one around Christmas wants to switch from Bali but can’t find a hotel because they are all full. “As for individual guests, bookings, especially from Australia, have increased. It’s as if the high season is starting earlier than it did last year. Our forward bookings for November are already 87%, which is higher than in previous years,” K. Anothai said. The Laguna complex, too, is reporting gains since the Kuta bombing. Surat Teerapharppongpan, Reservations Officer at the Dusit Laguna Resort Hotel, reports that the hotel is almost full at the moment. “Many guests have moved from Bali to hotels here. A lot of them are Australians. Right now we are nearly full and we will be right up to Christmas.” What happens further down the line, however, is an open question. The current surge in bookings on Phuket.Com consists to a large extent of people who have already decided to go on holiday, and who are therefore switching their destination to Phuket. Mr Cumming told the Gazette, “I’ve got bookings as far forward as August but not enough to show a trend. But we handle Internet bookings, which are usually fairly short-term.”

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