Phuket hoteliers optimistic about recovery

The first flight of the reopening program to Koh Samui arrives Thursday.

The first 14 days of the Phuket sandbox program have shown promising signs as the number of Covid-19 cases is below 1%, according to a tourism professional group, with operators urging the government to approve the Sputnik vaccine for attract the Russian market by October. .

“In the first two weeks, we have gained the trust of foreign travelers,” said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association.

As of July 14, there were 5,473 international arrivals under the program from Phuket, of which only 10 tested positive for Covid-19.

The association estimates that the Phuket sandbox will welcome a total of 18,000 travelers in July, 30,000 in August and 35,000 in September.

The main source markets for the program this month are the United States, with a mix of business and leisure travelers, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Mr Bhummikitti said the government should approve the Sputnik V vaccine for travelers from Russia, which was a key market for Phuket in 2019.

If this vaccine is approved by the third quarter, Russian travelers will start returning in October, he said.

Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) vice governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said UK residents traveling from Orange List destinations, including Thailand, will not have to self-isolate from next Monday, which could mean more British travelers visiting Phuket.

Speaking at the “Welcome Back Home” webinar, Ravi Chandran, Managing Director of Laguna Phuket and Executive Vice President of Banyan Tree Group, said hotels feel encouraged as guests seem happy to be back. in complexes after lockdown.

Before the sandbox, Laguna Phuket, which has seven hotels, had single-digit occupancy. It slowly increased to 20%.

As the third quarter is generally considered the low season in Phuket, the group is looking forward to the last quarter, when more sporting events like golf tournaments are scheduled.

“Phuket will start to feel a real impact in October when the Russian market returns, along with customers from Northern Europe,” said Bill Barnett, Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks.

There are 12,000 hotel rooms in the works, of which only 13% have been canceled and 20% delayed, Mr Barnett said.

However, 67% or 8,000-9,000 rooms are expected to flood the market, representing investor confidence in the destination.

Mr Barnett said hoteliers won’t see a number of arrivals similar to 2019 for 3 to 4 years. Patong is expected to be the center of inbound demand, along with Kamala, Cherng Talay and Mai Khao, he said.

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