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Phuket high season down 25% year-on-year: analyst



Phuket high season down 25% year-on-year: analyst | Thaiger

PHUKET: The start of this year’s high season for tourism in Phuket is down about 25% overall compared with last year, one industry analyst has said.

Bhuritt Maswongsa, vice-president for marketing at the Phuket Tourist Association, said occupancy rates at Phuket hotels in November were only about 60%, on average.

“We used to get occupancy rates in the 70% to 80% range in November, and 85-90% in December, but we aren’t getting them this year because Europeans aren’t travelling,” he said.

Economic recession, increased tax rates, higher fuel charges and the introduction of a “travel tax” in some EU countries had pushed up airfares and package tour prices “a lot”, he said.

Unusually heavy snowfall across much of the continent has also hurt arrival figures because of flight cancellations, and also because Europeans who felt their homes were at risk did not want to leave them, he said.

The situation in Phuket would be far worse if it weren’t for continuing growth in non-European inbound markets, including China, Korea, Australia and Russia.

These four countries, together with Singapore and Malaysia, have now surpassed Europe collectively as a source of high-season tourists to Phuket, he said.

An oversupply situation in the resort sector continues to shorten the peak season, when most resorts are at or near full capacity, he said.

“This year’s peak season runs from December 24 through until January 20, after which it will slow down again,” he said.

Mr Bhuritt expressed exasperation with the fact that resorts continue to spring up all over the island despite the obvious oversupply.

The start of this high season was down “about 25% to 30% overall” compared with last year, he estimated.

The downturn appears to match the prediction of those who took part in a Phuket Gazette online poll posted in mid-November, when almost 75% of those voting said they thought the rising baht would have a considerable negative effect on high-season performance.

— Stephen Fein


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