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Phuket Opinion: It’s been beautiful

Phuket Opinion: It’s been beautiful

PHUKET: Without doubt, Phuket over the past few weeks has been a changed island. With far fewer tourists than usual this time of year, as of Monday (Feb 23) down more than 36% year on year, anyone lucky enough to be in Phuket has been enjoying beautiful clear skies, light traffic and uncrowded beaches.

tourismweatherhealthChineseeconomicsCoronavirusCOVID-19
By The Phuket News

Sunday 1 March 2020, 02:03PM


Tourists enjoy Nai Harn Beach. Photo: Sutharat Khaodee

Tourists enjoy Nai Harn Beach. Photo: Sutharat Khaodee

The island in recent weeks has delivered everything the low season has to offer, without the downpours – which of all ironies is what Phuket needs right now.

The lack of tourists is certainly being felt by those whose incomes relied on Chinese arrivals, even only in part, but those who launched startup hotels and tour businesses with the sole intent of serving just one source market in the hope of making a windfall might be rethinking their core business strategy anytime about now.

Chinese tourists have always been the mainstay of Phuket’s tourism sector, but they were mostly out of the way, hidden on tour buses, in duty-free stores and staying at hotels catering just to them. Complaints about their overwhelming presence in nearly every corner of the island started rolling in only when the unsustainable blitz of Chinese arrivals began a handful of years ago and the spillover saw “first wave” tourists, here only for the cheap option as a holiday, entering new areas on the island.

That unsustainable growth has now experienced what economists call a “market correction”. But Chinese tourists will be back, and the experts say that the recovery will begin after April. They’re likely to be right. One way or the other, by that time people will get back on with their lives – to go on holidays where they can, health safety permitting. Phuket remains in that zone.

The LifeCo Phuket

But the main factor keeping tourists away even before the virus crisis was the cost. The strength of the baht and the depreciation of currencies in major source markets was already being felt in the drop of international arrivals. The effect was so pronounced that the tourism stimulus measures being rolled out now were first drafted in October last year, before the Wuhan outbreak.

The virus has changed that factor, for now. Airlines are slashing prices just to fill seats and keep flight routes open. Room rates in Phuket are falling through the floor just to get a few more guests.

If the cost was the one thing keeping you away, right now there couldn’t be a better time to have a holiday in Phuket.

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vegasbaby | 02 March 2020 - 18:57:28

Best news about reduced numbers of visiting tourists? Less raw sewage running into the sea.

DeKaaskopp | 02 March 2020 - 14:59:25

@Foot. Sweden being Europe's top country only proportionally seen to the size of that small country.Not in real tourist numbers.If you don't feel comfortable with the high number of Asians "surprisingly"visiting another Asian country,you should choose Europe as final destination.

Technoir | 02 March 2020 - 07:34:15

I've been to phuket 5 times and I'm planning my next vacation as we speak, you need to stop lying about prices being cheaper because they are not a single dollar cheaper than normal, neither the airfare nor the hotel prices. I like phuket (patong) but this year I'll likely be spending my tourist dollars in Sri Lanka. 

Kurt | 01 March 2020 - 20:17:23

And:  There is absolutely no guarantee that after April there will be water on Phuket for inhabitants and tourists. It is a big question when the rainy season starts, and what it water wise will bring this year to Phuket. All crystal ball stuff/  mother nature. From Phuket Officialdom one can't expect anything ( water works ??)

Kurt | 01 March 2020 - 20:05:42

Nice piece of Opinion, as always. However, who are the experts saying that recovery will begin after April?  Nothing indicates that. The coronavirus is just starting spreading more global, reaching more and more countries. And when recovery starts, many people   who eat now financial reserves need first their job back. Until next 'high season' tourism will be a luxury many can't afford...

Fascinated | 01 March 2020 - 19:27:03

Not sure about the light traffic. For about 2 months now there have been delays of up to 30 minutes trying to navigate the cherng Talay Police station traffic lights westbound and northbound. There seems to be no logical reason for this other than the light sequence may have been changed. This has become a huge choke point even without the big buses.

Any chanc we could have a bigger sized comme

Foot | 01 March 2020 - 16:26:51

"..Chinese tourists have always been the mainstay of Phuket’s tourism sector.."
Not so.
From 2010-2104 Europe was #1 with Sweden being the top country, followed by the rest of the European countries and Australia.  The Chinese became #1 after Thailand stopped making Thailand appealing to Western tourists.

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