Passenger traffic through Phuket International
Airport surged 28% in the first half of this year compared to
2009, marking a dramatic recovery for the destination as it leads
Thailand's tourism revival and a return to the boom year of 2007.
According to the mid-year edition of Phuket Market Update, a
research publication released by hospitality consulting firm, C9 Hotelworks, the road to recovery has firmly begun with higher
hotel occupancies and a "game changing" shift in tourist profile
that is driving growth.
C9 Hotelworks Managing Director Bill Barnett
said one clear indication of the bounce back is by hotel wide
performance statistics, with occupancies rising from 61% in 2009
to 70% in the same period of this year, although this did come at
a cost of average room rates - down 9%.
But the longer term
implications of the shift away from European visitors looks likely
to have a more telling impact on the destination as it once again
delivers the pre-economic crisis levels of 2007.
dynamics are evolving with a game changing shift in tourist
profile from a historical Eurocentric dependence on long haul
European visitors to short haul Asian travellers," Mr Barnett
said. "Driving this trend is the weakening of the euro and
pound sterling which have jolted market sentiment and transformed
travel patterns to the resort island destination."
According to figures revealed in the report, 2009 registered a
jump in arrivals by 1.74 million. However, when comparing
year-on-year data for the past five years, passenger volumes have
now hit levels of those back in 2007 or the pre global and
economic crises period.
"There could be some bumps in the
road going forward - but the hotel pipeline is still showing
development resilience and investment confidence with the addition
of 4,538 new rooms or an 11% spike over the next four years," said Mr Barnett. "A concern on oversupply exists, though this
could be cushioned by induced demand and larger trading volumes."
Bill Heinecke, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of
Minor Group International - one of Thailand's largest upscale
hotel and resort owners and operators through the Anantara brand
and its ownership of the JW Marriott in Phuket – is also bullish
for the hospitality industry on the island after recent local and
international incidents had stimied growth.
part of this year's third quarter is seeing positive pick up in
the market, which is a good sign given that it is traditionally
low season on the island," Mr Heinecke said. "Following
recent events and low season demand ... we are delighted to see that
we have better results than last year. With regards to the fourth
quarter, we have already seen positive signs for strong bookings
coming in for October, November and December, so we remain
positive that there will be 15% year-on-year growth."
Barnett added that the effect of the political crises in Bangkok
during the months of April and May caused a 38% drop in the second
quarter of 2010 compared to the first quarter – but the impact on
hotels was minimal as this came on the heels of the tourist high
season coupled with increasing direct international flights that
allow door-to-door access to the island.
"Gazing into a
crystal ball the key storyline of infrastructure enhancements and
increasing airlift aimed at supporting a mass tourism model though
looks set to create some controversy when eyeing Phuket 2.0 and
the direction the next upward cycle will take forward," Mr Barnett
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