PHUKET: Occupancy rates at most of Phuket’s hotels are looking much better than two weeks ago. Almost all of the hotels contacted by the Gazette today report that cancellations have dwindled and bookings are picking up. Our table illustrates what has happened over the past two weeks. Generally, at this time of year, Phuket’s hotels budget for occupancies of 75-80%. This year was no different, but Y2K fears and canceled flights apparently caused a dramatic drop in new reservations and a rise in the number of cancellations. With what has happened since New Year’s Day, most hotels now believe their occupancy rates will meet or exceed targets for the current high season. The two hotels currently going against the trend, The Allamanda and Royal Phuket City, told the Gazette they believe their lower occupancies stem from a heavy percentage of Asian guests. Asian tourists, they said, had not been as sensitive to Y2K issues as Westerners, and had therefore continued to visit Phuket in December. However, many Asians preferred to stay at home with their families for the New Year, resulting in a dip in occupancy in the first week of January. Both hotels expect guest numbers to rise again in the coming weeks. In part, at least, the large variations between hotels in the same area occur because some define “occupancy” strictly in terms of guests occupying rooms, while others include confirmed reservations and even “tentative” bookings.
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