Tourism in the Thai province of Surat Thani, including the Gulf islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, has seen remarkable recovery recently, with a 900% increase in tourism revenue compared to a 600% increase in the number of tourists year over year.
According to the Governor of Surat Thani, Witchawut Jintoe, last year the province’s revenue from tourism was 27.7 billion baht, an increase of 912%from 2021. The number of visitors in 2022 was 3.7 million, which was a 666% increase from 2021.
“These numbers have shown that Surat Thani Province’s tourism revenue growth is the highest in Thailand.”
The islands have been hampered over the past by the problems of transport to and from the island, with either a car ferry with limited availability or expensive airfares because of the airport monopoly by Bangkok Airways. Recently the ferry contractors have increased capacity to both Samui and the other islands.
In other good news for the region’s tourism numbers, last months Koh Pha Ngan Full Moon Party attracted near ‘pre-Covid’ numbers to the monthly night of partying on Haad Rin.
Meanwhile, hoping to tap into the Thai medical tourism niche around Samui and the neighbouring islands, the province has opened its fifth hospital, the Wattanapat Samui Hospital. The new healthcare centre is expected to enhance tourists’ confidence in the region.
The hospital, with a bed capacity of 380 beds, specialises in highly skilled staffing, and cutting-edge equipment, and can accommodate patients from Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, and the tourists that visit those areas.
Governor Wichawut stated that the new hospital will build trust and attract more foreign tourists to Koh Samui, aligning with the province’s tourism policy of transforming the island into a “wellness destination.”
“Koh Samui not only offers high-quality tourism experiences and beautiful natural attractions, but it also places importance on wellness and health activities.”
Last year, the number of arrivals to Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao rebounded strongly, increasing three-fold compared to the pandemic period. The three islands expect to see this year’s number triple that of last year’s.”