A strong low season and China growth has pushed Phuket International Airport past a record high 8 million threshold. One of the developing storylines is mixed-use hotel and tourism attractions highlight market maturation as retail, theme parks and entertainment ventures are now coming into play in the accommodation space.
In 2017, Phuket posted 11.3% y-o-y growth in airport arrivals surpassing an estimated 8.4 million incoming passengers. This was mainly driven by a 20% surge in Mainland Chinese travelers to the island and a rising number of passenger arrivals during low season of 11.2% compared to the same period in 2016. Airlift was the key catalyst as market-wide hotel performance continued to see an uptick in occupancy at 77%.
With its successful water park in Hua Hin, Proud Real Estate plans to start the development of Vana Nava Phuket by Q4 2018. Coupled with a 255-room Holiday Inn Express, the project is valued at nearly THB3 billion. Kata Water Park is another notable tourism attraction that will begin construction in 2018. Developed by Kata Group on a 13-rai plot, replacing Kata Plaza, the plan includes a 300-room hotel and multiple dining outlets.
Apart from many undergoing projects by the Government to improve public infrastructure, the private sector has initially invested THB40 million to fund the ‘Phuket Smart Bus’ project. Launching with 10 buses in 2018, they will carry passengers from the airport directly to Phuket town with estimated fares ranging between THB50-150. Upcoming routes are Cherngtalay, Kamala, Patong, Karon and Karon.
Some key trends during the year were:
With an average of 641,863 passenger arrivals per month in 2017 during low season compared to 759,703 in the high season, the island is evolving into a year-round destination.
Market-wide annual occupancy rose as 54% of Chinese and 55% of Australians chose to visit Phuket during the May – October low season.
Branded hotels sustain momentum as brand-affiliated properties accelerated to 85% of total pipeline keys with 30% having hotel residences.
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