Koh Samui Sees Some Signs of Revival
Tourism activity on Koh Samui is expected to revive next year with expectations that Asian visitors in particular will stage a comeback as they perceive improved political stability in Thailand, say industry executives on the island.
Visitor numbers from the Middle East and Russia are also expected to rise because of stepped-up advertising and attractive tourism packages to be offered by operators, said Senee Phuwasetthaworn, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui. According to Mr Senee, four charter flights with 150 seats each from China Southern Airlines are scheduled to fly to Surat Thani starting from Wednesday.
The airline is using the Surat Thani provincial airport instead of the one on Samui, which is owned by Bangkok Airways and charges high landing fees.
« This reflects a new hope for operators as it will be the first time there is a charter flight from China to Surat Thani, » he said.
Mr Senee said operators were seeing increased hotel room reservations from Germany, Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia for January, the busiest month of the high tourism season.
The association forecasts Samui will draw 1.1 million foreign visitors next year, with revenue of 12-13 billion baht.
« The projection is based on the prospect that we do not have any more political clashes, » said Mr Senee.
In a bid to stay competitive and increase the quality of tourism, local operators recently agreed to develop Samui as a « green island », said Mr Senee.
The government has also set aside a budget of 900 million baht from its 1.4-trillion-baht stimulus programme to build and upgrade roads on the island.