Bolstered by a strong low season and double-digit China growth, arrivals into Phuket hit a historic high of 8.4 million in 2017, growing 11.3 per cent over the previous year, according to C9 Hotelworks’ Phuket Hotel Market Update report.
Demonstrating the destination’s progress towards becoming a year-round destination, C9 revealed passenger arrivals averaged 641,863 per month during the low season last year compared to 759,703 in the high season, closing the gap between high and low seasons.
Another key trend is marketwide occupancy was pushed up as 54 per cent of Chinese and 55 per cent of Australians chose to visit Phuket during the May-October low and shoulder seasons.
C9 further shared STR data showing that hotel performance continued to see an uptick in occupancy at 77 per cent last year, although the volume metric pushed the median room rate slightly to 3,740 baht (US$116.20).
C9’s managing director Bill Barnett is quick to point out that island hoteliers need to be pragmatic about the shifting geographic segments. “Phuket International Airport is the de facto entry point for tourists to Khao Lak, which has nearly 9,000 hotel keys in its inventory. Lower-priced accommodation and a large selection of beachfront properties are benefiting from increasing Australian and Chinese numbers in July and August,” he said.
And while arrival growth prevails, the average length of stay is shrinking due to regional Asian market take-up. Moreover, exponential growth in shared economy offerings such as Airbnb are becoming mainstream competitors to hotels.
Barnett further cautioned: “While the recent upgrading of Phuket International Airport and new terminal has been a welcome change, the longterm reality is it’s just a band aid to a macro issue. As Khao Lak continues growing along with the beach areas north of Phuket, the need to diversify Phang Nga’s rising tourism market with its own airport is becoming more and more urgent by the day.”
More from the report here.