Koh Samui’s hotels pull through 2014 relatively unscathed: report

KOH Samui’s tourism sector has managed to shield itself from the worst effects of 2014, despite year-on-year slides in overall arrivals and hotel performance.

Total passenger arrivals through Samui International Airport last year dropped 0.5 per cent from 2013 to 958,987, while occupancy contracted six percentage points, room rate fell by six per cent and RevPAR tumbled 14 per cent, the Samui 2014 Hotel Market Update from C9 Hotelworks found.

The declines were a direct result of Thailand’s political crisis, including the May coup d’etat, said the consultancy’s managing director, Bill Barnett, who pointed out that the timing of the crisis coincided with the lead-up to Koh Samui’s traditional high season.

While total arrivals were down last year, international passenger arrivals increased four per cent to 125,275, helping stabilise performance by year-end. Thailand, Russia, Germany, the UK and Australia were the top five source markets, with the latter down 17 per cent year-on-year. The strongest growth came from Eastern Europe, up 35 per cent on 2013.

“Airlift remains the most profound bellwether for Koh Samui and new flights to the gateways of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have spurred fly-through traffic from regional and longhaul markets,” Barnett stated in the report. “More importantly, the upgrading of the island’s daily flight ceiling has for the moment put the long-term airport conundrum on the back bench.”

The Department of Civil Aviation recently granted permission for the airport to increase daily flights from 36 to 50, which is expected to drive demand.

However, due to the scarcity of land on the island, hotel development will take place at a relatively slow pace. The 208-room Ozo Chaweng was the sole opening in 2014.

This year, the Imperial Samui Resort will rebrand as a Sheraton, marking the only new opening with the addition of 75 keys to the island’s capacity of 17,986 rooms. Another six new properties are in the pipeline over the next three years.

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