Koh Phangan firms seek cheaper ferries
Tourism operators in Koh Phangan are urging a lower ferry fare to the island after the price rose more than 40% this month, affecting operating and living costs for locals.
Chantana Limsuwan, president of the Koh Phangan Hotel and Tourism Association, said the price of food ingredients and construction material surged when transport costs rose, placing more financial burden on local operators and people who are preparing to welcome tourists in the peak season.
From July 1, ferry service for four-wheel vehicles from Donsak pier to Phangan via Raja Ferry increased from 620 baht to 900 baht.
She said the island will feel the impact of higher logistics costs more than Samui as the sea route from Donsak to Koh Phangan takes 2.5 hours, while Donsak to Koh Samui takes only one hour.
The association and related stakeholders in Koh Phangan plan to discuss this issue and submit a petition to Surat Thani's governor and the Transport Ministry later this month, said Ms Chantana.
They want the authorities to help mitigate this impact by gradually increasing the ferry price.
As peak season for the island runs from mid-July to the end of August, the occupancy rate in July may pick up to 60%, exceeding rates during the New Year holiday in January.
Hotel operators already secured a 50% booking rate for the period, with average room rates nearly matching those in 2019, she said.
"Hoteliers can hardly gain a profit amid rising costs," said Ms Chantana.
"They cannot increase room rates as they want to remain competitive to prevent tourists from shifting to cheaper destinations such as Laos, Vietnam or Bali."
She said the Full Moon Party scheduled for July 15 has some hotels at Haad Rin fully booked. The overall occupancy for hotels across the island is expected to be 70-80% for the event.
More Thais plan to join the party before hopping to Koh Samui and Koh Tao during the long holiday from July 13-17, said Ms Chantana.
Recently Koh Phangan was selected as the world's best destination for "workations" in 2022 by the William Russell website, thanks to affordable living costs, internet speed, entertainment and safety.
Ms Chantana said this ranking shows the island has potential to become a leading destination and the government should allocate a development budget to the Gulf of Thailand coast, instead of focusing on the Andaman provinces.
In addition to the Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan can promote art and design festivals as there are many local and international artists and designers who have long-term stays here, she said.