“The total number of Phuket visitors should increase by 15% this year despite the prolonged financial and economic crisis in Western Europe. The Island is fortunate to have continued high annual growth rates for Russian and Chinese tourists, with arrivals for each market expected to surpass 300,000 in 2012, second only to Australians at 500,000. The average Phuket hotel occupancy rate should reach 70 percent, while room rates will increase by 5% depending on the segments.” said Mr. Piya Sosothikul, Executive Director of Seacon Group, owner of the Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa.
Operators that benefitted from the growth of the Chinese market are large 3-4 stars hotels, located either in Phuket town or further inland from the beach due to their competitive pricing and also because Chinese tourists normally are more interested in sight seeing than sunbathing. As for Russians, the preferred accommodations range from small 2-star apartments to 5-star international chained-managed hotels that are closer to the beach. Their averaged stay last longer than a week.
The main immediate challenge for Phuket is solving the congested airport, which has to accommodate more than 20 additional chartered flights per day during the high season. As for the medium term, Phuket MICE market will strongly benefit from a national convention center that has been delayed for many years. There is also an urgent need for road expansion and public mass transit system which can, actually, start with a simple public bus service both within Phuket and connection to Phang Nga and Krabi.
“The airport will be handling more than 9 million passengers this year, much higher than its capacity of 6.5 million passengers. Currently there are planes arriving after midnight due to limited landing time slots as during peak hours, there is plane taking off or landing every 5 minutes on the single runway. However, since Phuket generates more than 10% of the total national inbound tourist income, I believe that the government will support the needed investment.” Mr. Piya explained.