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Southern provinces enjoying boom in European tourism

Specifically Phang Nga. The former president of the Tourism Council of Phang Nga says the southern province is enjoying a bumper high season, thanks in the main to European travellers – and mostly in Khao Lak.

Pongsakorn Ketprapakorn says many Phang Nga hotels, in particular in Khao Lak, are able to charge higher rates than in 2019, which was “an exceptional year for Thai tourism”.

“The first quarter of this year will likely be the best high season in five years.”

Most foreign visitors in Phang Nga are from Germany, Scandinavia and Russia, with hotels reporting occupancy rates of over 90% and some fully booked. However, Phang Nga hasn’t seen a surge in arrivals from China, with Pongsakorn saying the Chinese tend to prefer busier places like Phuket and Bangkok.

Even though Chinese travellers are the most numerous arrivals at Phuket Airport, the Europeans are the most numerous at Phang Nga accommodation spots.

Meanwhile, over in Krabi, the owner of Koh Lanta’s luxury Pimalai Resort and Spa says its 200 square metre villa rooms have sold faster than the 48 square metre deluxe rooms. Charintip Tiyaphorn adds that demand is particularly high from wealthy European and American travellers.

The occupancy rate at Pimalai this season is over 90%, with the average January room rate of over 9,000 baht across all room types exceeding that of 2019.

As with Phang Nga, there are few Chinese visitors. Charintip says that even with the Chinese New Year holiday, the resort was mainly full of tourists from more long-haul countries, who tend to book 150 -180 days ahead, unlike the Asian markets which have a shorter lead time.

Meanwhile, the president of the Krabi Tourism Association says Krabi still has the challenge of a lack of direct flights from China. Sasithorn Kittidhrakul says that prior to the pandemic, Krabi Airport welcomed direct services from 5 or 6 Chinese cities.

However, there are now direct charter flights to Krabi from Stockholm, Warsaw, and Prague, in addition to scheduled flights from places like Dubai, Singapore, and Malaysia.

According to Sasithorn, Krabi’s top tourism markets are Sweden, Malaysia, Poland, and the UK, with the province benefiting from room rates that are 20 – 30% higher than in 2019.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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