RED SHIRT CRISIS Laguna Phuket Hotels Not Hard Hit
Updating market reactions to the continuing Bangkok political crisis which is expected to spill over into the country's all important tourism sector remains increasing important as we continue to look at Phuket tourism at ground zero.
Managing Director Michael Ayling of Laguna Resorts and Hotels had this to say "only minor cancellations have occurred. Our experience over the recent month of events has seen feedback that Phuket is increasingly removed from Bangkok in the eyes of the traveling public. There has continued to be strong pick up in forward bookings despite the protests."
Longtime Phuket hotel veteran Daniel Meury who is General Manager of recently opened B-Lay Tong commented "we have not seen any of our guests departing early or trying to avoid flying via Bangkok. While we did receive 3 cancellations, at present trading is expected to slow down from next week coming into low season."
He did express concern coming into the challenging months ahead, voicing out "I foresee hard competition on rates coming up very soon." This looks to be dually impacted by both the usual end of the Euro-centric long haul high season and knock on effect from a prolonged media play of negative events in the nation's capital.
Just over the bridge at Phang Nga's Aleenta luxury resort Corporate Director of Operations and Development Urs Aebi told us "no existing guests are checked out, though some forward bookings have been cancelled, these are from the Asian markets."
Leaving us with the takeaway"April is looking better than expected, as we budgeted 65% occupancy but look to close above 70%."
Perhaps one of the most challenging situations is for the newly opened Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa in Mai Khao which only started taking guests in March. The hotel's Marketing Communications Manager Kulchada Boonrawd confirmed "no cancellations have been received yet and we are in fact expecting high occupancy next week from a European brand name cosmetics group."
Most of those we spoke to have worked in Phuket through a number of past events including SAR's, Asian tsunami, global financial crises, the yellow shirt takeover of Bangkok and Phuket airports. While they expressed critical concern over a prolonged political dispute, noted that history has taught us that a rebound effect back of pent up demand typically follows.
Phuket's considerable direct international airlift remains its strongest ally. Without a doubt rates look set to drop in order to attract volume. Over the past decade the island's hospitality market has shown an elastic effect not unlike that of a rubber band, time and time again.