A new gateway to Phang Nga in Thailand is expected to open the destination up to a larger mainstream market, says C9 Hotelworks’ managing director, Bill Barnett.
“Without a doubt the biggest game changer going forward is the plan for a 60 billion baht (US$1.9 billion) airport in Khok Kloi Phang Nga. If it materialises, the travel time to the Khao Lak tourism area will be reduced to approximately one hour and in effect create a far broader mainstream tourism market,” Barnett remarked in the Khao Lak & Phang Nga Hotel Market Update June 2018.
The destination is already seeing strong arrivals growth. According to C9, visitor arrivals in 2017 totalled about 4.6 million, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 24 per cent, due to increasing airlift at the gateway Phuket International Airport.
And while Western European visitors are typically the main market feeder for Khao Lak, accounting for 65 per cent of total international guests, there has been increasing demand in the MICE segment, comprising weddings from Europe, India, and Australia together with incentives from Singapore and Hong Kong.
Looking at hotel supply, C9 reported a rebound from the slight drop in 2016, with 2017 seeing a six per cent increase in inventory to 12,623 keys.
While a majority of the existing hotels are concentrated in the Khao Lak centre area which includes Khuk Kak Beach (29 per cent), Nang Thong Beach (17 per cent) and Bang Niang Beach (11 per cent), locations have been expanded to other beaches such as Pak Weep Beach (10 per cent).
In addition, more developments are being pushed to Bangsak and the pipeline footprint is continuing to grow northwards, C9 observed.