KOH SAMUI – A drop in foreign visitors in Koh Samui has prompted operators to turn their focus to Thai travellers. With more affordable tourism services being arranged.
The average occupancy rate in Koh Samui, plunged sharply to 45% during the first six months this year.
Down from 65% in the same period last year, the Tourism Association of Koh Samui (TAK) announced.
Vorasit Pongkumpunt, TAK president said Chinese tourists dropped the most, due to the US-China trade spat.
The strong baht is also pushing Chinese travellers towards other countries.
In Samui alone, the number of Chinese visitors fell 25-30% in the first six months. With chartered flights from Chengdu to the island down by half to just five flights a week since Aug 15.
Bangkok Airways the Only Commercial Carrier Flying to Koh Samui
Mr Vorasit said one way to reverse slowing tourism is to allow more scheduled flights to land in Samui.
Koh Samui airport should permit more airlines with scheduled flights to compensate for the fall in chartered flights.
Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Koh Samui office, Nongyao Jirundorn, said the TAT plans to promote the island as a preferred destination. Luring tourists from short-haul markets that provide direct flights to Samui.
Last year, 6.1 million tourists visited Surat Thani province, of which 2.7 million reached Samui. Of the total, 10% were Thais. Foreign visitors were mostly from Germany, China, Eastern Europe, Australia and Britain.
In the first half of 2019, overall arrivals to Surat Thani stood at 3.05 million, up 1.7%, and generated 56 billion baht for the economy, up 5.7% from the same period last year.
Ms Nongyao said that in the first half Koh Samui‘s tourism was still healthy, with arrivals around 1 million.
To arrange affordable tourism services to locals, the TAT and the private sector are set to organize the Samui Festival.
Local hotels and ferries will offer discounts to tourists who visit Samui during the event. Bangkok Airways will offer lower airfare between August and December 2019.
Surat Thani governor Wichuwit Jinto said the event, scheduled for Sept 14-19 this year, is expected to generate 500 million baht in tourism income.
Source: Bangkok Post