Mega moves in Thai tourism

PHUKET, 31 May 2018: A soaring airlift to Thailand’s leading resort island is set to continue as plans are unveiled for a brand new Greater Phuket Airport, C9 Hotelworks latest market research reveals.

Available for download at the C9 Hotelworks website, the report says Thailand’s great push forward on mega-transportation projects is seeing strong dividends being paid in its tourism industry.

The report cites the key example of Phuket, where passenger arrivals grew by nearly 19% in the first four months of the year at the newly upgraded and expanded international airport.

Explaining the trend C9 Hotelworks points to the upward trajectory of low-cost carriers (LCC’s) and supercharged airlift.

Underpinning the remarkable growth story is the exponential rise of Mainland China, which registered a 50% year-on-year increase, followed closely by Russia at 47%. By year-end, a record high 9.7 million passenger arrivals are expected to pass through the airport.

Direct flights to Phuket up until May established 23 new routes to the destination with 19 being from Mainland China according to Thailand-based according to C9 Hotelworks’ latest market research. Currently there are 33 cities in China that have air link to the destination.

A defined shift in geographic source markets over the past 10 years has experienced rising demand for non-beach centric activities.

With the strong purchasing power of tourists, especially Chinese, Russians and Australians, more retail and tourism attractions are developing on Phuket island.

The changing mix of visitors is reflected in the island’s hotel performance with leading hotel data benchmarking group STR reporting that in 2018 upper mid-scale hotels have shown the highest demand growth of 10% compared to the same period last year.

Commenting on the changing landscape, C9 Hotelworks managing director, Bill Barnett says: “Phuket is gradually transforming to a more urbanised holiday destination rather than a pure beach getaway.

“Resort-oriented retail is a rising force, with our data showing nearly 200,000 square meters of Grade A net lettable area in the pipeline.”

Another spin-off of the tourism numbers is a series of upcoming themed tourism attractions including Vana Nava Water Park, Blue Tree Water and Entertainment Park and Aquaria at the new Central Festival mall extension. The powerful mix of retail and tourism is most evident in the island growth belt from Kathu to an ever-expanding Patong.

Looking at the hotel sector, Phuket has 1,744 tourist accommodation establishments with 84,427 keys as of Q1 2018, which includes both registered and unregistered properties.

There are 36 new hotels in the pipeline with 27 properties affiliated with international hotel brands.

Barnett concludes that Airports of Thailand’s decision to invest an estimated USD 1.8 billion in a second airport just over the Sarasin Bridge in Phang Nga bodes well for fundamentals.

“Creating a broader Greater Phuket Tourism Triangle that includes Phang Nga Bay and the prime west coast beach strip from Natai to Thai Muang on the mainland will bring more diversity and refresh the island’s maturing global appeal.”

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