Phuket Awaits Russian and Chinese Tourism Rebound
Russian and Chinese tourist arrivals to Phuket are expected to rebound this year thanks to improving tourism sentiment, says hospitality market researcher and consultant C9 Hotelworks Co.
Managing director Bill Barnett said Russian tourists are starting to return to a normal level while Chinese travellers are coming back as the impact from the zero dollar tour crackdown fades. According to the C9 Hotelworks Phuket Hotel Market Update in February, the Russian tourist market saw a big improvement, with their arrivals surging 51% last year, thanks to the strengthening of the rouble against the baht.
Moreover, the political unrest in the Middle East prompted Russian tourists to shift their travel plans to Phuket during the high season. Mr Barnett said Chinese arrivals had been adversely affected by the government's crackdown on Chinese zero dollar tour operations in September last year, with Chinese visitor growth in 2016 lowering to 11%, compared to 35% in 2015. But the situation has largely improved as measures to restore Chinese tourists and tour agents bear fruit, with Chinese visitor numbers having gradually recovered since early this year. Chinese arrivals also picked up during the Chinese New Year.
Last year, the balance between two major source markets - Russia and China - ended the year on a positive note as Phuket hotel revenue per available room rose by 4%, which was propelled by a significant upswing in the market wide occupancy rate of 6.2%, according to data from global research firm STR.
Phuket enjoyed a sharp 18% rise in tourists with total arrivals at its airport surpassing 7.5 million last year. Mr Barnett said the renovation of Phuket airport's domestic terminal, which is scheduled to be completed in the last quarter of this year, will lure more international and domestic tourist arrivals as the terminals are connected. It will further ease passenger traffic.
One key highlight in the C9 Hotelworks report is a 10 year view on tourism growth in Phuket, which is set to be one of Asia's leading tourist destinations. Over that period, the growth rate in tourist arrivals are projected to be threefold, while the island will succeed in attracting new developments.
Currently, the hotel market will have a total of 5,495 rooms from 32 new hotels, which are expected to be put on the market by 2020.