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Phuket Coronavirus Tourism Impact By The Numbers

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: Tourism. Posted: 31st Jan 2020

Taking lead in the news today has the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a global health emergency.

For hotels and tourism the best metric to understand the impact of the virus on the island’s tourism market is airport arrivals.

Looking at data from Wednesday 29thJanuary, international passenger arrivals at Phuket airport dropped 32.95% compared to the same date in 2019. For the previous day, Tuesday the 28th, the shortfall was 29.80%.

Viewing the month of January, overseas visitor arrivals on a daily basis were achieving positive growth. This changed on Sunday the 26th which saw numbers retract. It’s important to note in far as trends go the January month-to-date remains positive at 7.92% which gives readers an indication that the months had been showing strong arrivals versus last year.

Taking a broader look at Bangkok’s numbers for Suvarnabhumi on the 29th, overseas arrivals declined by 14.92%; while Don Mueang, which is more regional focused stepped back 32.63%.

Statistically, the hardest hit Thai airport is Chiang Mai, which experienced 48.89% loss of international arrivals on Wednesday and is indicative of the destination’s reliance on inbound Chinese.

Back to Phuket, it’s important to know the year-on-year comparison actually does not tell the full story. In 2019 Chinese New Year was in February so last year’s numbers when compared to 2020 are not apple to apple given the holiday turbocharger occurred in January.  Hence the CNY impact in January in the data above, if we consider the absence of the holiday boost is even more profound than the percentages shown here.

Currently there are 33 cities in Mainland China that have flights to Phuket.

Where does the hotel industry go from here? Phuket is not alone in its strong dependence on Mainland China, and what is likely is, once this situation turns the corner will be rate focused strategies which means bad news for hotel owners who were looking for higher-yield in 2020.

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