Russian tourist arrivals rebound in Phuket, as Chinese arrivals stutter
Russian arrivals are back to pre-crisis level while zero-baht tourism curbed Q4 growth rate, reports the newly released C9 Hotelworks Phuket Hotel Market Update for February 2017.
"With total airport arrivals surpassing 7.5 million passengers, Phuket experienced a sharp year-on-year rise of 18% compared to 13% the previous year,” noted Bill Barnett, Managing Director of hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks.
“This is largely attributed to the resurgence of the Russian source market, which increased by 51% last year. The rebound was prompted by the strengthening of the ruble against the Thai baht and political volatility in the Middle East that shifted Russian tourists to the island during high season,” he said.
“Another notable source market is Mainland China, whose arrivals were substantially affected after a national-wide government’s crackdown on zero-baht tourism in September of last year. The growth rate of Chinese visitors for FY2016 was down from 35% to 11%. However, the impact from the new enforcement is expected to soften in early 2017 with more Chinese travellers arriving during Chinese New Year,” Mr Barnett said.
Another key market issue is the influx of Airbnb and residential products now competing in the hotel space.
“There has been a significant change in the Department of Tourism and Sports’ revised hotel supply data to include both registered and unregistered tourist accommodations in late 2016, with Phuket now showing a total of 81,727 keys in 1,744 establishments,” Mr Barnett observed.
“This shift demonstrates the Thai government’s focus on addressing the widespread proliferation of unlicensed accommodation and the provincial administration has issued an ultimatum for illegal hotels to either register or face legal action,” he said.
The balance between two major source markets ended the year on a positive note as hotels’ RevPAR rose by 4%, which was propelled by a significant uplift in market-wide occupancy of 6.2% according to data from STR.
“Overall Phuket hotels achieved slightly more than 75% annualised occupancy for the year,” Mr Barnett said.
“One key highlight of the C9 report is a 10-year perspective on growth in one of Asia’s leading report destinations. Over that period growth in airlift has been threefold, which is a key catalyst in demand generation,” he added.
“The island has has been successful in attracting new developments with more brand affiliated properties. Currently, the hotel pipeline has a total of 5,495 keys in 32 new hotels which are expected to come on stream by 2020,” he said.
For the full report, click here.