THE resurgence of the Russian market to pre-financial crisis level helped Phuket tot up over 7.5 million airport passengers 2016, Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks said in his company’s latest research paper.
The number of Russian visitors rose by 51% last year with this helping push 2016’s airport passenger total 18% higher year-on-year compared to 13% in 2015.
That more Russians are starting to again visit Phuket is clearly due to the stronger ruble against the baht and political volatility in the Middle East redirecting them to the island, Mr Barnett said.
However Mainland China, which is another key source market, was affected by the government’s zero-baht tourism crackdown last September with this leading to growth rate dwindling to 11% in 2016 compared to 35% in 2015.
Nevertheless the impact from this crackdown is expected to weaken this year starting with the just-concluded Chinese New Year holidays.
These two important source markets led to Phuket’s hotels ending 2016 on a positive note as can be seen by market-wide RevPar (revenue per available room) rising by 4%.
The RevPar growth was pushed by a 6.28% uptick in occupancy last year while ADR (average daily rate) was 3,804 baht.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ hotel supply data was amended to include both registered and unregistered tourist accommodations in 2016 and Phuket currently has a total of 81,727 keys in 1,744 establishments. There are 32 new hotels in the pipeline with a total of 5,584 keys expected to come on stream by 2020.
There is a strong trend towards branded properties in the hotel pipeline with approximately 79% of total keys in new developments brand-affiliated and 21% independent.
Meanwhile South Korea and UK both moved up to the top five international source markets with an increase of 21% and 20% in passenger arrivals, respectively.
Also significant is the increase in inbound domestic flights as this almost doubled that of international routes with the former rising 20% year-on-year compared to the latter’s 11% jump.
A key development in Phuket is the renovation of Phuket International Airport’s domestic terminal which is scheduled to be completed in this year’s last quarter and will then link up with the international terminal thus easing passenger traffic.
Top: Phuket’s beautiful beaches draw millions of visitors each year. Photo: ThaiResidents.com
Inset: Bill Barnett says Phuket’s hotels did well in 2016.
By Nina Suebsukcharoen