Gloomy outlook for Phuket tourism

PHUKET CITY: The Phuket Tourism Association (PTA) has forecast that Phuket hotels will see average occupancy rates dip to as low as 25-30%, compared to 60% in the summer season last year.

Citing a number of negative factors, PTA Vice President Bhurit Maswongsa said the spread of the type-A (H1N1) flu virus was one of the main problems hitting the industry at the moment.

Phuket is already in the summer season, but occupancy rates will fall by about 30% to remain at between 30-35%,” he predicted.

Revenues for operators in Phuket would be down 50% compared to last year, he added.

Only tourists from Australia, the Middle East and India are likely to be visit the island in strong numbers at this time of year, he said.

Promotional offers were not enough to tempt tourists back to Thailand as they were trying to avoid the possibility of catching the flu and were also concerned about political instability.

Moreover, occupancy rates in the high season are expected to be down 20%, to between 50% and 60%, he said.

Laguna Resorts and Hotels forecasts the average occupancy rate at its properties will be down 20% to 25% in the second and third quarters of this year.

Average occupancy rate at the region’s largest resort complex fell 27% in the first quarter, to 65% because people canceled bookings to Phuket following the closure of the Bangkok airports in November.

Political instability and the global economic crisis are key factors for the downturn and this has been exacerbated by the spread of the flu virus.

Debbie Dionysius, Laguna’s assistant vice president for destination marketing, said it had offered 100,000 free rooms earlier this year so occupancy rates were pretty high from January to March. However, revenue was down.

Ms Dionysius expected to see an improvement by the fourth quarter as tourists would be returning to Thailand.

We have seen some positive signs such as the economy picking up,” she said.

Dusit Thani Laguna recorded the best performance in terms of revenue in 2007-2008, while Banyan Tree has recorded the highest occupancy rate over the last two years.

The hotel operator is trying to attract more tourists to the island by adding more activities and implementing new marketing strategies.

An upcoming event is the fourth Laguna Phuket International Marathon, which is scheduled for June 14. The event is expected to draw 4,000 runners from overseas and from within Thailand. It is hoped that the event will generate revenues of around 30 million baht for the province.

According to Ms Dionysius, Laguna Phuket is working with international schools in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore to organize activities and camping trips. The scheme will run from June to September.

Moreover, the group will try to attract more customers from China where it has Banyan Tree offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Laguna expects visitors from China to increase from 5% this year to 15-20% over the next few years.


Phuket News

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