Mounting pressure to license Phuket hotels as arrivals surge

Maya Beach , Phi Phi island

Less than a quarter of hotels in Phuket (429 out of 1,724) are licensed six months on from the January 31 deadline set for offending hotels to become registered, according to C9 Hotelworks.

Of the 1,295 unlicensed hotels identified in Phuket, only six have had their licenses approved. A further 1,001 are pending approval, while 288 have not yet applied.

Maya Beach , Phi Phi island

C9 Hotelworks’ managing director, Bill Barnett, said that a disconnect in regulation could be hindering the licensing process.

“Phuket’s provincial government has undertaken an admirable large-scale initiative to tackle the proliferation of unlicensed hotels,” Barnett said. “Currently the main challenges for the process are the strict regulations associated with the Thailand-wide Building Control and Hotel Act.

“As a result of these mandates, the province is considering reviewing the requirements to support the conversation process,” he added.

Local authorities are under pressure to tackle this issue, as strong demand from emerging economies continues to drive a sharp increase in tourism arrivals to Phuket.

For example, Russian passenger traffic at Phuket International Airport jumped 17 per cent in the first five months of 2017, while arrivals from mainland China rose eight per cent.

Hotel development in Phuket also continues to gather pace, with C9 Hotelworks’ pipeline analysis showing 33 hotels (5,738 rooms) being developed across the island, including major global brands such as Sheraton, JW Marriott, Best Western, InterContinental, Park Hyatt, Kempinski, Ramada and Rosewood.

At the same time, private sector investment into the hotel industry is racing ahead of the public sector.

Without the ability to apply hotel tax to unlicensed properties, the island is being denied much needed revenue that could be reinvested into infrastructure.

C9 Hotelworks stresses that it remains imperative to ensure that the 1,295 unlicensed hotels currently operating in Phuket are dealt with swiftly to ensure the issue does not do damage to the island’s international reputation.

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