Koh Phangan plugs sustainable tourism

Koh Phangan plugs sustainable tourism

Aiming for 100,000 arrivals this year

Foreign revellers enjoy themselves at the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani on April 16. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)
Foreign revellers enjoy themselves at the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani on April 16. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI: Koh Phangan aims to promote long-term sustainable tourism to attract more than just Full Moon Party visitors, with the aim of 100,000 arrivals this year following the relaxation of travel rules.

The Full Moon Party on April 16, alongside the Songkran holiday, helped the island post its highest occupancy rate since January at 85-90%, but only 70% of the 600 hotels on Koh Phangan are open, said Chantana Limsuwan, president of Koh Phangan Hotel and Tourism Association.

She said the latest party saw room rates almost recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Prior to the pandemic, the average room rate during the Full Moon Party was 1,500-2,000 baht per night, while beachfront hotels at Haad Rin cost around 3,000-4,000 baht.

However, that income was only enough to cover payroll and electricity bills, due to higher operational costs.

After the festival ended each month, the occupancy rate dropped to 20-30%, while room rates plunged 30-50%.

Ms Chantana said forward bookings for the next Full Moon Party on May 16 are still unclear as partygoers have a shorter booking period, previously from at least a month, to 10 to 15 days now.

Hotels that target long-stay digital nomads now have 15% to 20% advance bookings for next month.

Ms Chantana said other famous parties, including the Half Moon Party, might resume in August by the time travel rules are relaxed.

However, the Black Moon Party will not be back on the schedule soon.

The association has discussed with operators its plan to create value-added experiences to extend each guest's length of stay.

Without new activities, tourists usually spend one or a few nights on the island around the time of the Full Moon Party.

Ms Chantana said its tourism model is inspired by Ibiza, which is globally renowned for its parties, and has similar features to Koh Phangan.

For instance, Koh Phangan will offer beach clubs or day lounges, and host more events at Haad Rin beach with safety protocols, like security guards, to upgrade its services and image.

Moreover, the island is also famous for holistic wellness retreats and outdoor activities like skimboarding, kiteboarding and sailing.

Its abundant forests are also good for trekking and trail running.

"The Full Moon Party is a key magnet for Koh Phangan, but operators have to raise their standards and prove that the island has more to offer all year round," Ms Chantana said.

She said local tourism operators expect to welcome 100,000 tourists this year, assuming that all restrictions are dropped.

Meanwhile, Apichart Chayopas, managing director of Raja Ferry Port, said the number of passengers using the firm's ferries from three piers -- Donsak, Samui and Phangan -- grew by 95% to an average of 6,500 per day between April 11 and 17. These are the best numbers recorded for Songkran in three years.

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