Demand indicators continue to be strong in Phuket with Russian arrivals rebounding and curbing a growth decline in Chinese arrivals, according to key findings in C9 Hotelworks’ Phuket Hotel Market Update for February 2017.

With total airport arrivals surpassing 7.5 million passengers, Phuket experienced a sharp year-on-year rise of 18 per cent compared with 13 per cent the previous year.

This is largely attributed to the 51 per cent increase from the Russian source market, which C9 said was prompted by the strengthening of the rouble against the Thai baht and political volatility in the Middle East that shifted Russian tourists to the island during high season.

For mainland China, Phuket’s top source market, growth rate for 2016 plunged from 35 to 11 per cent after a national-wide government crackdown on zero-baht tourism in September of last year. This impact is expected to soften in early 2017 with more Chinese travellers arriving this Chinese New Year.

The balance between two major source markets – with China declining two per cent in market share while Russia grew to 13 per cent – saw Phuket ending 2016 on a positive note as hotel RevPAR rose by four per cent.

RevPAR was propelled by a 6.3 per cent uptick in market-wide occupancy, according to data from STR. Overall, Phuket hotels achieved slightly more than 75 per cent annualised occupancy for the year and 3,804 baht (US$108.60) in ADR.

The Phuket market continues to attract new developments, with a total of 5,584 keys across 32 new hotels expected to come online by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism and Sports has revised hotel supply data collection to include both registered and unregistered tourist accommodation in late 2016, and Phuket now shows a total 81,727 keys in 1,744 establishments.

This shift, according to C9’s managing director Bill Barnett, demonstrates the Thai government’s focus on addressing the widespread proliferation of unlicensed accommodation, and the provincial administration has also issued an ultimatum for illegal hotels to either register or face legal action.

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