Top News Domestic demand keeps Krabi tourism afloat By TTG Asia / Posted on 9 June, 2021 13:08 Krabi’s tourism sector has remained resilient despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with the province’s gateway airport trafficking over one million domestic passengers in 2020, according to a C9 Hotelworks’ report. The hospitality consulting group’s latest Krabi Hotel Market Update revealed that unlike the Southern Thai resort markets of Phuket, Khao Lak, and Koh Samui which are highly foreign dependent, nearly half of the tourists staying in Krabi in the pre-Covid year of 2019 were domestic. Krabi is a hot favourite among local holidaymakers; Koh Haa pictured Outside of Bangkok, the destination had the fifth-highest airport passenger tally in the country. C9 Hotelworks’ managing director Bill Barnett said in the report: “While hoteliers are looking at the reopening of international markets in October as a second-phase of Thailand’s Sandbox initiative, many wonder how long is the next cycle back to stabilised trading of the pre-Covid 2019 era? “In the South of Thailand, with Phuket firmly encamped in mass tourism and Samui hampered by airlift limitations, Krabi is reaching a critical intersection on what market model to pursue. In contrast to Phuket, Samui or Phang Nga, Krabi had the highest level of domestic guests at accommodation establishments, with Thais accounting for 43 per cent in 2019.” According to STR’s area director of Asia Pacific Jesper Palmqvist, Krabi capitalised the most of any Thai market during the extended long weekend over Songkran in mid-April, peaking at just over 80 per cent occupancy on April 11, well above that of other islands like Koh Samui and Phuket, that also saw an increase over the holidays. “Amidst the gloom and doom of low domestic demand, vaccine conversations, and no international tourism – there is perhaps some solace in the fact that pent-up demand is alive and kicking for pandemic-weary travellers looking for open spaces,” Palmqvist said. Echoing the sentiment of many Krabi hotel owners and tourism operators, Barnett pointed out that “the industry is looking back at 2019 as a gauge of looking towards the future”. He added: “That year, Krabi hosted over four million guests at tourism establishments. Mainland China was the largest single international source market representing 14 per cent, followed by Europe which was highlighted by the UK, Germany, and France.” According to C9 Hotelworks’ report, the existing hotel supply in Krabi is highly concentrated with unbranded mid-scale properties. In the pipeline, the incoming key properties are affiliated with international hotel brands which is a sign of destination maturity. With more upscale and luxury properties entering the market, Krabi will benefit from growing destination awareness and greater diversified market segments. Looking forward, the upgrade and expansion of the existing Krabi Airport including a new terminal and runway will attract airlift and grow capacity.