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Why Koh Samui Is Witnessing Drop On Tourism Arrivals

Surat Thani International Airport @ Koh Samui | Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s increasingly popular tourist destinations, boasting of world-class resorts that attract multitudes of international visitors all year round. Lately though, the island paradise in Southeast Asia has been plagued by “troubling drop” in tourist arrivals.

Of note, hotel occupancy in Koh Samui saw a decline of around seven percent in the first three quarters of 2018 when compared to the numbers recorded last year, C9 Hotelworks reported. Such a trend was reflected anew when at the end of August this year hotel room night demand shrunk by 4.4 percent, somehow indicating that the island resort, thought by industry observers to soon rival Phuket in terms of popularity, is in for a bumpy ride.

And seemingly to confirm that visits on the island is currently on the slide, the C9 report said even the number of local visitors heading to Koh Samui is bound south. By the end of June 2018, domestic arrivals in Koh Samui Airport registered a retreat of 19 percent as opposed to the arrival figures recorded during the same period in 2017.

Struggling Market

On the international side, it appears likewise that tourists from abroad have decided to pass up on this part of Thailand during the stretch of January through September 2018. The latest furnished by the Surat Thani Airport in the main island showed that the inflow of passengers coming from overseas thinned down by 36 percent, and there’s no telling if the figures from October to December this year will tell a better story.

The sad state of the market is seems was generated by two main things – the lack of easy air travel access and the economic slowdown in China that prevented many from going ahead with their holiday plans.

The latter influenced Chinese tourists into reconsidering Koh Samui as a vacation spot. For one, China’s currency took a lower value against the Thai Baht during the so-called mild downturn in China, thus making it more expensive to visit the island.

In addition, the absence of affordable flights that will bring Chinese tourists to Koh Samui proved a turn off to many from the mainland China. As a result, Koh Samui’s traditional largest source of market for tourism arrivals suffered an alarming decline.

Need Of the Hour

To remedy the situation over the near- and long-term, the government needs to ramp up on its massive development projects given that the Koh Samui economy is highly dependent on the tourism industry, according to Bill Barnett, Managing Director for C9 Hotelworks.

“Koh Samui either needs to find a way to grow the existing airport or else find a new location and long-term solution to the airport conundrum,” Barnett proposed.

He added that Koh Samui will need to address the situation in the quarters ahead, and that hotel and tourism operators will have to deal with the pressures during the process of infrastructure enhancements. However, Barnett is convinced that the segments of luxury properties and wellness will mostly weather the storm.