Laguna Phuket turns to China, Middle East as Europe stays away

PHUKET: Laguna Phuket, the giant five-star resort complex on Bangtao Beach, Phuket, says it plans to look more and more towards China and the Middle East next year to compensate for a continuing plunge in bookings from European tourists.

The operators expect the global financial crisis and domestic political unrest to continue affecting international arrivals next year, particularly Europeans, long the primary component in the resort’s guest lists.

Debbie Dionysius, senior marketing director at Laguna Resorts and Hotels, operators of the complex, said the political chaos was already hurting the company.

She said arrivals from key longhaul markets like Australia and Europe, particularly Russia, Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia, had showed a 12 percent year-on-year drop in the third quarter.

“Many overseas governments have issued travel warnings for Thailand, and that has hit the country’s hotel business,” Dionysius said.

As a result, Laguna will temporarily stop focusing on Europe and turn to other potential markets to fill its rooms. The company plans to target China and the Middle East, with more spa, golfing and shopping packages.

“We’re working with Shanghai Airlines, which is now operating direct flights into Phuket, to encourage Chinese and other Asian tourists,” said Dionysius.

The group plans to increase its proportion of Chinese and Middle Eastern guests from between one and two percent now to five percent next year.

Meanwhile, Laguna Phuket is spending 15 million baht to create an event space called Latitude, aimed at attracting more business meetings. It will be able to accommodate 1,500 people.

The operator has also opened its new Laguna Marquee conference hall, which can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.

With both of these new facilities in place, Laguna Hotels and Resorts expects its corporate business to increase to 20 percent of total revenues next year.

– Nation/Gazette News Pool

Phuket News

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