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Is the Phuket Sandbox redundant?


PHUKET, 17 September 2021: The resort island of Phuket’s proof of concept Sandbox advantage looks to dramatically change come October, says C9 Hotelworks managing director Bill Barnett in an email post on Thursday.

“Since 1 July, island hotels have experienced considerably higher occupancy levels and much-needed revenue from international arrivals. This has been Sandbox generated, and travellers, not necessarily tourists. Bangkokians fleeing the red zone situation have also aided in demand.

“With the Thai government now looking to reopen the country’s capital gateway on 15 October to overseas travellers, Phuket no longer will be the only way back into the country for fully vaccinated travellers who do not want to quarantine.

“Other markets that can potentially access direct international flights such as Chiang Mai, Krabi, and Pattaya (U-Tapao) are expected to follow in the steps of Bangkok.

“With the Bangkok outbreak, many Phuket hotels have also seen an uplift in long-stay guests who are both Thais and foreign, who have fled the urban crisis.  Mid-October will likely see most return back to the city.

“Hotels have seen lower forward bookings in September (no surprise here as it and May are the two slowest months of the year for occupancy), and October is a shoulder month leading into the traditional high winter season.

“With the Phuket Sandbox marginalized by the reopening of the country, hoteliers will have to contend with a much more competitive marketplace. The domestic segment that had been growing pre-travel restriction is the logical starting point, so Phuket hotels have to adapt and address this segment.”

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(Source: Bill Barnett, managing director C9 Hotelworks)

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