Mumbo jumbo in Phuket hotel bookings

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: Phuket readers of stories from a wide array of ‘media outlets’ are by now well accustomed to conflicts, mumbo jumbo and gobbledygook when it comes to hotel occupancy, forward bookings and other tourism statistics.

There are times when the unreconciled (and seemingly irreconcilable) data might easily drive an innocent into believing that there are two or more Phukets, e.g., a Phuket, Thailand; a Phuket, Atlantis; Alice-in-Wonderland Phuket; TAT Phuket; Property Sales Phuket; and, occassionaly, a Reality Phuket (which is indeed an island).

NEWS Hound is faced with such a dilemma again today.

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According to Asia Travel Trips, Phuket-based hotel booking company (HTN), has reported year-to-date 2010 hotel bookings up more than 23% over the same period in 2009 (1 Jan-19 May).

HTN’s Chief Information Officer, Olivier Dombey, says three important factors have been driving the growth. First, customers with existing reservations have been switching from Bangkok to other destinations rather than cancelling. NEWS Hound can only assume that these switches entail more room nights, more expensive room nights, longer trips or more stopovers. (Otherwise, “growth” would not occur from them.)

Second, according to Mr Dombey, low season rates were allowing bargain hunters to grab “great” hotel deals in Asia. And third, the company’s location in politically calm Phuket had given them a competitive advantage since it had enabled them to stay open while some ot their competitors in Bangkok were forced to close.

HotelTravel’s website reports a 36% increase in bookings to Phuket year-to-date 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, and an astounding increase even as the level of unrest in Bangkok intensified. For the period April 10 to May 19, the company says its bookings rose 10% over the figure for the same period in 2009.

Earth Times, however, paints a somewhat different picture, albeit for a slightly different date frame. They say that the Phuket Tourist Association is reporting forward hotel bookings for June equal to only 15 per cent of capacity, which is an exceptionally low figure for Phuket.

PATA to help Phuket

The Nation
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is to help shape a recovery plan for tourism in Thailand.

PATA’s chairman, Hiran Cooray, said its Thailand chapter would assist the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in the recovery phase.

PATA has emphasised that travel to Thailand is still safe. A major part of Bangkok remains open and accessible to tourists and business travellers, with hotels, shops and tourist sites open for business.

Popular tourist resorts such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Pattaya were, and remain, unaffected by the protests in Bangkok which drew to a close last week, noted PATA’s chief executive officer Greg Duffell.

Visa Overstay penalty exemptions

Three offices of the Immigration Bureau’s Division 1 in Bangkok remained closed last week, but visitors who overstayed will not be liable for fines.

The Immigration Bureau informed foreigners holding temporary stay permits that expired after May 17 that they will be exempt from fines when leaving the country, but they must contact an Immigration office on the first day the offices resume services.

For more information, contact 02-141 9889.

Olive branch to red shirts

Today Online
Thailand’s Prime Minister on Friday promised an independent probe into “all events’ surrounding the red shirt protests, and called for reconciliation to heal deep political divisions that led to widespread violence and 83 deaths in two months.

In a nationally-broadcast address on television, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said, “We can certainly repair damaged infrastructure and buildings, but the important thing is to heal the emotional wounds and restore unity among the Thai people.”

Order has been restored in Bangkok, the prime minister noted, following the crackdown on the protesters, who went on a rampage of arson and looting after their leaders surrendered on Wednesday.

Across central Bangkok, a huge clean-up was under way after the scenes of anarchy that saw 36 major buildings go up in flames, including the stock exchange and the nation’s biggest shopping mall, which now lies in ruins.

Reports said the damage bill from the torched buildings alone could reach 40 billion baht.

Determined to get back visitors

The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will spend 20 million baht in a new “Thailand Extra Value” program to revive the country’s image in the hope that it can win back MICE visitors over the next six months.

The new extra value benefits are divided into categories: Maximize Value, Maximize Rewards, and Extra Night Extra Smile packages, which all include a variety of freebies and bonuses.

The new program will be introduced during IMEX 2010 (May 25-27 in Frankfurt, Germany) and TCEB road shows in London and Geneva, Switzerland.

The new incentives are expected to draw 517 million baht to the country and will run until the end of December.

— Gazette Editors

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