Phuket’s northern neighbour cannot continue to rely on their gateway airport to fuel sustainable demand, Mr Barnett notes in C9 Hotelworks’ latest report, “Khao Lak Hotel market Update – July 2017”.
The report is subtitled, “Hotels battle high and low season volatility, as unlocking year-round business challenges market”. (To download the full report, click here.)
According to the report, Phang Nga Province recorded an all-time record high 4,475,223 visitors in 2016 as tourism revenue for the province topped B38.6 billion.
While the numbers are impressive, the destination’s lack of a gateway airport remains a stumbling block to broader success, says Mr Barnett.
“Phang Nga and its leading resort area Khao Lak heavily rely on Phuket’s overloaded international airport as a lifeline. With over 12,000 registered hotel rooms in the province and a burgeoning pipeline of new projects, something has to give,” he says.
“Plans for the development of a privately operated airport in Thai Muang District by Bangkok Airways is currently under review as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). While Phang Nga’s provincial government has been a strong advocate, the project has faced local opposition from the agricultural sector,” Mr Barnett notes.
Poised as a natural holiday destination, the Phang Nga-Khao Lak tourism market is characterized by strong seasonality trading.
Last year, the province achieved 65% of its tourism receipts during the high season, which runs from October to March.
“This is mainly due to the pronounced fluctuation of visitor arrivals throughout the year. Cumulatively, revenue totalled US$1.14 billion in 2016, with a peak in February due to Chinese New Year,” Mr Barnett revealed.
“Despite strong growth from Chinese visitors led by lower margin wholesale business, average daily rates still rose 8% year-on-year. This is attributed to the increasing mix of overseas source markets, while Western European travelers remain the key feeder of room nights,” he added.
“As Phuket tracks a mass tourism agenda that has stretched airport capacity, Phang Nga desperately needs a gateway airport in order to become a sustainable year-round leisure destination,” Mr barnett concluded.