Lucky Numbers Roll in for Koh Samui
The Phuket Gazette.
COMPETITION keeps things interesting. Second-guessing your competitor is half the battle. But in the Phuket – Samui tourism bout, playing the high-stakes, high-end market seems to be a safe bet for both islands.
Numbers for Koh Samui are in for the first half of 2010 covering January through June, and news is not as grim as some may have expected. Increases in room revenue in hotels throughout the region were up over 800-million baht on the same period in 2009.
Using visitor arrivals as a key market indicator, arrivals at Samui Airport pushed up 19%, which was reminiscent of the good days of 2008.
With a land area less than 50% of Phuket – or approximately 229 square kilometers – the official population of Koh Samui is only around 50,000. Given that there are 362 registered accommodation establishments with a total of 14,261 rooms, there must have been a number of people out swimming the day the census takers came around.
The top five international source markets used to be comprised of Germany, UK, Australia, Russia and the Middle East, but the fastest growing new ones are India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Eastern Europe. Looking to the foreseeable future, the Asian tourism contagion is showing sign of a changing tourist profile.
With overall occupancy up 5% for the period, a knock-on effect favorably impacted average room rates, and the all-important hotel metric RevPAR (revenue per avail-able room).
Early concerns that recovery would come in the form of masses of low-budget accommodation to attract more of the backpacking crowd are alleviating as numbers for luxury hotel bookings are just as high as the middle and lower -end.
When comparing performance within the tiers of luxury, upscale, midscale and budget/economy room rates were up all up in hotels throughout the region.
A decline in upscale occupancy would indicate demand shifts towards cheaper occupation and would be a strong indicator of oversupply in the segment. This was not the case. Luxury properties topped the growth rate chart and experienced the 'ugliest level of growth in average rates.
An interesting statistic showing how Samui is growing into a more sophisticated market is the island's decline in registered tourism establishments by 11%, which accounted for 1,308 rooms exiting the supply side.
Most of these were smaller guesthouses that could not compete with the onslaught of new properties, which seems to be driving the lower-level backpacker crowd off the island and onto other nearby locations such as Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
There continues to be a substantial increase in luxury hotels at Samui. In the second half of this year, a 109% increase – or 209 new rooms – will enter into the topside of Samui's offerings.
Branded hotel residences in the property market continue to dominate activity. Notable trading is currently going on for off-plan sales at the Conrad Koh Samui Resort, given an attractive guaranteed return of 7% for five years.
Developers at famed chill spot Beach Republic in Lamai have also tapped into a fractional sales model that is seeing high demand.
The past six months have suggested that Koh Samui is returning to a sustainable recovery path, despite external events throughout Thailand that concern many about the future of tourism. There remains potential for forward progress for the remainder of this year and beyond.