TRENDS Economy Watch
RESORTS in Patong report occupancy rates lower than at this time last year. Some even suggest that staff may have to survive without pay if the dip continues through coming months.
Wolfgang Meusberger, regional manager of Holiday Inn, said the occupancy rate at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket, on the Patong beachfront, was running at 80 percent.
That figure may sound good to some other resorts, but 2007 was better. The Holiday Inn usually delivers figures that are much higher than most other resorts.
And if the Holiday Inn sneezes, the rest of Phuket catches cold.
Khun Wolfgang says bookings were coming from Europe for November and the start of the high season, with guests from Australia, India and the Middle East now propping up the numbers.
''We cannot really speculate beyond November because the future is unclear,'' he said.
That concern was echoed everywhere in Patong, the strongest year-round destination on the island.
Along the beachfront at Baan Laimai Beach Resort and Spa, where extensive renovations have just taken place, Phuketwan was told that a continuing drop in guest numbers could lead to staff having to go without pay by September.
At the Amari Coral Beach Resort, Marketing Executive Apaporn Nonkeaw said that the occupancy rate was down five percent this green season to 70 percent.
Like the Holiday Inn, the Amari usually tops 90 percent each high season.
Australians are the mainstay for now. The Australian economy has yet to feel pressure on banks and lending institutions, as in the US, or record jobless figures and property price falls, as in Britain.
Next high season is producing some bookings for Europe, the Amari reports, but there is great uncertainty.
Other resorts were reluctant to even provide occupancy rates.
Back from the beach, the Ibis, which opened just a few weeks ago, reported that numbers had yet to meet expectations. The 80 staff were being retained.
Phuketwan will continue to report regularly on the Andaman economy
Hanging Four And Proud
THE KALIM Boardriders' Club hosts the annual Kalim surfing competition from July 18 to July 20, with a party on Sunday at Club Lime in Patong after the prize awards at Jungceylon.
Visitors are welcome to watch, and there will be kite surfers to entertain the onlookers between the surfing events.
Shell out 500 baht and you've got yourself a ride in the competition. This is the fourth annual event and each year, the sponsorship and the prizes grown larger.
Your Very Own Tuk-Tuk Tour
EVER WONDERED what it's like to be a tuk-tuk driver? Care to go for a spin in one of those amazing red contraptions, not in the back but sitting up alongside the driver?
Now tourists can find out.
A home-stay adventure, offering bed and board with an English-speaking tuk-tuk driver and his family in Patong, has proved to be surprisingly appealing.
One Australian has already stayed with the family for two months. Visitors get to see what it's like, hunting for fares all over the island during the day, and around Patong at night.
Life with a Thai family can be a very pleasant experience. If the idea appeals, give Khun Promchote a call on 081 8697431.
Best on The Eating Beat
PHUKETWAN reader Evelyn went to the Som restaurant at Lay-Pang Beach, which is actually the northern stretch of Bang Tao, on the strength of a Phuketwan review.
We said something along these lines: ''The restaurant dish that best signifies Phuket's status as an international (and slightly quirky) holiday destination just has to be a tiger prawn sandwich.
''Want one? We know where you can find one.''
We don't know whether Evelyn got her tiger prawn sandwich but she did say: ''You are right about Som restaurant. It is really outstanding.
''Rudy is a very friendly and open host and his wife Som a superb cook. Thank you.''
The Phuketwan database of restaurants builds week by week and is rapidly becoming a thorough guide to good food on Phuket.
It may never be complete, but it should always be reasonably up to date and accurate.
If you are feeling hungry, it's just a matter of scrolling through our listings or doing a search for a particular beach location or town.
Unlike most other reviewers in island publications, we pay our own way, so what we provide is a scrupulously honest account.
Meanwhile, our painstaking and palatable research to find the Phuketwan Restaurant of the Year for 2008 will continue. Enjoy your meal.
A new festival on an island off Phuket is set to capture traditional life, and perhaps even the buffaloes that will be ridden and raced; The difference between Phuket Town and Phuket City, invisible people.
Buffalo Festival A First For Phuket
The piling went in but the Patong resort management discovered the classy new villas were above the 80 metre height limit. What to do? Three die in Patong landslip; Detox spa for Patong.
Patong Resort Cancels Villas For Height Breach
Phuket's hilltop Big Buddha is already attracting a steady stream of tourists and many Buddhist temples warrant visits, too; Patong tailors strike back with a honeymoon treat.
Temple Ceremonies Deserve An Audience
So it's Goodbye, Khun Suwalai. As Phuket tourism faces a new crisis, the TAT director who led the recovery after the tsunami heads for Europe and a new role. Her replacement is coming from New York
Phuket TAT Director Bound For Europe
Six months of waiting is over for the sailor at the centre of a strange night on board the Merlin that led to the death of a frogman; pawn shops record highlights economic downturn; minister quits after protests.
Kata Killing: Merlin Skipper Ready To Sail
Phuket's local authorities agree on a rubbish recycling plan; Treasury backs an island conference centre; Dubai resorts in tourism numbers crunch; New Phang Nga park planned; Burma cyclone latest.
Deal on Recycling Brings Hope For Phuket
First you see them, now you don't. One big brand is no longer going ahead with a large Phang Nga resort deal; twice daily tsunami warnings; Penang roadshow; Philippines gamble.
Big Brand Pulls Out of Khao Lak Deal
TRENDSevery day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading.