Hotels in Phuket are unfazed by a sluggish European economy and weak British currency, with Laguna Phuket expecting to record its best high season as Chinese tourists return and international travel demand rebounds.
Paul Wilson, vice-president and deputy managing director of Laguna Phuket, said hotels on the island are seeing strong demand from mixed markets.
Leisure tourism was not affected by fluctuations in currency, unlike property sales and investment, which require large sums for money transfers, said Mr Wilson.
He said some tourist segments were unaffected by the economic slowdown and inflation as they still have disposable income and travel demand.
"People are still keen to spend for memorable experiences," said Mr Wilson.
He said the majority of hotel rooms under Laguna Phuket, housing eight hotels and resorts, registered performance exceeding 2019 levels.
The firm expects the trend to continue through high season in the final quarter.
"Broadly speaking, we are exceeding our best year," Mr Wilson said.
The pandemic changed the island, leading to more diverse demographics, with less reliance on the Chinese market and more guests from the Middle East and Europe, he said.
Tourists stayed longer than before, including Russians, in part because of the war in Ukraine. Many also booked their rooms directly with hotels, which helped to improve direct income.
Mr Wilson said the visa-free scheme for Chinese from Sept 25 until February should strengthen Chinese demand during the period, in addition to strong domestic travel.
He wants the new government to promote Phuket as a tourism destination from several angles, including health and medical tourism, business meetings and sports tourism.
Laguna Phuket hosts the 29th Laguna Phuket Triathlon on Nov 19, normally one of the first events on the island to welcome the festive season, said Mr Wilson.
The event hopes to attract more than 1,200 athletes and 2,000 visitors from 30 countries, he said.
Danai Sunantarod, vice-governor of Phuket, said the province registered more than 6 million foreign tourists generating 200 billion baht over the first seven months of this year.
Mr Danai said the province is ready to accommodate tourists during the upcoming high season, with Phuket airport expected to be fully operational in October, hosting 300-400 flights daily, up from 250 flights per day at the moment.