KP Ho, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, believes that Phuket is poised to leverage its temperate weather conditions to become a tropical hub for business and leisure over the next decade.
“I think a greater Phuket effect is going to happen eventually over the next 10 years where Phuket will transform into a ‘Honolulu’,” Ho predicted during his talk at Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism (PHIST) 2023 earlier this month.
Southern Thailand, particularly along the Andaman Sea, can evolve into a dynamic hub similar to Hawaii’s cluster of resort cities over the next decade, given ample attractions in neighbouring regions like Krabi, Phang-Nga, Khao Lak, and Surat Thani.
He cited the government’s investments in the Phang Nga and Krabi airports as being instrumental in this transformation.
“There are very few truly international class destinations in this part of Asia which perfectly meet the climactic needs of people living in temperate climates,” he said.
Taking a broad view as an owner of resorts in various tropical spots, he pointed out that many resorts in Indonesia, Vietnam, and China – even Bali and Samui – experience cold and wet winters.
“If you look at the map, only Phang Nga and the Greater Phuket area are perfectly attuned to winter conditions. Of course, Burma would be too – but (due to current events) it has fallen out completely as a tourist destination,” he stated.
He indicated that the Banyan Tree group is “doubling down on Phuket purely from a climactic point of view,” and also added that North-east Asia should not be overlooked as a significant source of travellers seeking to escape cold weather.
Banyan Tree Phuket, established in 1994 as the group’s first property, remains the most lucrative for the group, which now has properties in over 25 countries and will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.
Phuket is also positioned to withstand the impacts of climate change, given its geographical location near the equator.
A recent study published by UNICEF and authored by the Thailand Development Research Institute shows that Phuket consistently holds the lowest risk among Thai provinces in various climate change projections, including both RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 baseline emissions scenarios.