At a press conference held two weeks ago on Patong Beach, Phuket tourism officials announced the official start of the tourist high season.
While it was recognised that hotel room reservations in Phuket had been 10-20% lower so far this year compared to last, officials said this upcoming high season was expected to be as busy as ever.
Kongsak Khuphongsakon, head of the Southern Thai Hotel Association, told Manager Online that Phuket has an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 hotels, with between 100,000 and 150,000 hotel rooms catering for tourists of all budgets.
Mr Kongsak predicated occupancy room rates will hit 90 percent with tourists from Europe, Asia, Thailand, and even China still expected to visit in large numbers.
Yet a report earlier this week painted a different picture of what the near future holds for Phuket’s tourism industry.
With the island struggling to recover from a plunge in tourist arrivals from China, the US trade war and the surging Thai baht, hotel rooms have been left vacant and beaches sparse, AFP reported.
According to the report, hoteliers have been forced to slash hotel rooms prices by as much as 50 percent.
Mr Kongsak, who is also director of the Vijitt Resort later admitted to AFP that with that hoteliers now face a huge challenge to fill the island’s abundance of hotel rooms.
And the lack of foreign tourists hadn’t gone unnoticed by other foreigners visiting Phuket.
AFP also spoke to Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years, said: “I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment.”
But it isn’t all bad.
Marketing campaigns, increased flights and visa fee travel have all helped to attract large number of Indian tourists to Phuket and elsewhere in Thailand.
Two million Indians are now expected to visit Thailand this year, an increase of 25 percent year on year.
According to Mr Kongsak, Indians are now being counted on to revive Phuket’s tourism sector.
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