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Problem? What Problem? Phuket is going against the red tide in Thailand

Phuket's Red Cloud Produces Silver Landings

Monday, April 5, 2010
Phuket Economic Analysis

IS PHUKET really a safe haven from the troubles of Bangkok? Well, yes. Latest figures show Phuket tourism has been thriving despite the blood smearing, television debates and random rolling red rallies in the besieged capital.

International arrivals and departures in March at Phuket International Airport compared to the previous year rose by a massive 38.94 percent to 324,327.

Domestic traffic was up by 17.80 percent, too, making for an overall increase of 26.82 percent.

The number of flights also upturned dramatically, lifting by 28.17 percent to a total of 4272 takeoffs and landings.

Bearing in mind that the negative effect of the red rallies in Bangkok applies from March 12, when the protests began, the figures reveal not just the benefit of Phuket having direct flights, but also the success of Brand Phuket.

Those in tourism who believe that Phuket is almost as well known among travellers these days as Bangkok may have won their point.

Latest STR Global figures showed Phuket resorts at 85 percent occupancy in February. On today's newly released March arrival and departure figures, March is likely to be just as healthy.

What the red rallies are doing is creating a schism in the fortunes of Thailand's tourism industry. Bangkok and the destinations that mostly rely on the capital for travellers are suffering horribly, thanks to the red tide.

Yet Phuket? Phuket is doing very nicely, thank you.

Resort occupancy figures for March can be expected to show Phuket holding steady around the 80-85 percent mark, while almost every other part of Thailand, and especially the capital, will be exceedingly pleased to nudge past 50 percent.

Thailand is becoming two markets, at least for the duration of the red rallies: Phuket and the rest.

October-March figures also reflect the strength of the just-concluded high season, with arrival and departures up 30.91 percent for October 2009-March 2010 compared with October 2008-March 2009.

It would be bad manners to celebrate the good fortune of Phuket and its 'Greater Phuket' Andaman satellites while Bangkok burns with anger and impatience. However, while it would be inappropriate to roll out the red carpet, a sip of champagne and a sly chuckle, without making too much noise, is probably in order.

Now if only something could be done about Phuket property sales . . .
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