Thailand’s Kata Group plots growth on back of southern airports’ expansion

Kata Group's founder and president, Pramookpisitt Achariyachai, alongside son and heir, Pariyawit Achariyachai

With the expansion of southern Thailand’s airports, Kata Group’s founder and president, Pramookpisitt Achariyachai, alongside son and heir, Pariyawit Achariyachai, who recently assumed the role of group business development director, are seeing an opportune time to expand the family-run hospitality business.

As one of Phuket’s oldest hospitality groups, Kata Group is now eight hotels strong with its new opening – a 512-room, Mesopotamian-themed hotel – which is its fifth property in Phuket and second in Kata. The four-star property covers more than 2.6ha, and also boasts the largest children’s playland in Phuket.

“If the airport capacity increases, the number of hotel rooms must follow,” stated Pramookpisitt, of his confidence in expanding in Phuket, whilst referring to southern Thailand’s second gateway airport project in nearby Phang Nga, which will boost the Andaman Triangle’s current annual air arrival capacity by another 5.5 million at its first stage of completion in 2025.

“Phuket has weathered a lot of crises; though the tourist boat capsizing incident in 2018 has deterred a lot of Chinese visitors, there’s confidence the island can bounce back just like it has before. That’s why the authorities are pushing the new sister airport (in Phang Nga) which is one factor in our choosing to expand in Phuket.”

Kata Group has unveiled expansion plans targeted to medical tourists and retirees in Krabi and Phang Nga, respectively – hotels that closely precede the doubling of Krabi’s annual air capacity from four to eight million with the addition of Terminals 2 and 3, slated for completion in 2022, and the completion of the first phase of the second gateway airport Phang Nga.

The hotel group is also preparing for its second wellness-themed Krabi property, which will house at least 200 rooms, and hopefully ride on the incoming waves of medical tourists if Thailand’s new 12-month medical visa policy is green-lit, said Pramookpisitt.

Also in the company’s development pipeline is a 50-room pool villa boutique hotel in Samed Nangshee, at Phang Nga, which is slated to enter the design phase next year. Offering beautiful views of the bay, it will focus on catering to the needs of retirees with personal care activities and providing them with a space to relax with family and friends.

“In the past, Kata Group only focused on foreigners and some of our luxury hotels were only open to adults. Now, we realise families, including Thai families, are a market that we can really leverage. We are one of the few in Phuket to design a kids’ club with a purpose to take the kids away from the parents so the parents will have alone time as well. There’s a big demand for that, especially from Scandinavian and Russian families,” shared Pariyawit.

While European visitors are struggling with the strong Thai baht, Pramookpisitt further shared that the group has recently seen a huge increase in Indian visitors – one of Thailand’s fastest-growing tourist markets – and is confident in a 70-90 percent occupancy rate for their properties in the coming year.

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