Krabi tourism struggles with flight shortage

Krabi tourism struggles with flight shortage

Yet holidaymakers spend more money

Krabi Airport's new passenger terminal. (Photo: Krabi Airport)
Krabi Airport's new passenger terminal. (Photo: Krabi Airport)

Luxury tourists are travelling less but spending more money, while Krabi tourism is struggling with a shortage of international flights, particularly from China, according to Pimalai Resort and Spa, a hotelier operating on Koh Lanta.

Charintip Tiyaphorn, owner of Pimalai Resort and Spa, said that although European guests, its major market, have been impacted by inflation and soaring living costs in their home countries, they still have a strong desire to travel to Thailand due to the affordable price of tourism products.

At present, European tourists will take only one or two overseas trips per year, down from four trips prior to the pandemic, but they are spending more during each trip, said Ms Charintip.

The current market on Koh Lanta is dominated by guests from the UK, Germany, Switzerland, the US and China, with each accounting for roughly 20%.

However, domestic markets have dropped this year as local tourists with high purchasing power opt for outbound trips instead.

Pimalai Resort and Spa is forecast to have an average occupancy rate of 65% this year, improving from 60% in 2019.

Ms Charintip said its strategy is to stabilise the occupancy rate rather than raising the average daily room rate, as it hopes to boost expenditure via longer stays.

Its room rate has been maintained at around 7,317 baht in 2023, a slight decrease from 7,802 baht in 2019.

However, for the final quarter alone, its occupancy rate and room rate have been upgraded to 80% and 8,500 baht, respectively, thanks to high season.

Ms Charintip said the occupancy rate could improve to 72% next year, with a daily room rate of 7,600 baht, as the numbers of international tourists are expected to grow.

She said the growth of Krabi tourism in 2024 remained opaque, largely due to slow international flight resumption at Krabi airport, especially from China, India and South Korea, which do not have direct services at all.

China previously had the biggest market share of 40-50% during its peak season between May and October, but now it stood at less than 20%.

At present, there are direct flights from Scandinavian countries, Poland, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, she said.

Ms Charintip said the proposal to extend eligible stays for 56 visa-free countries would benefit the Scandinavian market, a key feeder to the island.

The government should also invest in creating wellness tourism products to attract high-quality tourists.

Pimalai Resort and Spa has invested 50 million baht in its facility development, of which 20 million baht was used for a lounge bar to cater to both hotel guests and tourists.

Another 30 million baht was allocated for the renovation of 11 villas, which will be completed by next year.

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