Samui Operators Plead For More Flights
The government is being urged to increase flights to Koh Samui as tourist numbers are expected to surge during the high summer season.
Seni Puwasetthawon, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said it submitted a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva because existing flights were inadequate to cope with demand. National carrier Thai Airways International has only two flights per day offering a total of 290 seats.
Previously, the association petitioned Bangkok Airways to increase its flights to Samui from 32 per week, but the private airline refused because of environmental limitations.
Mr Seni forecast a flight shortage this year, as hotels and tour operators have conducted intensive marketing to attract both international and domestic visitors.
Samui will have 17,000 rooms by the end of this year, up from 16,000 in 2009, he said.
Occupancy for the first quarter this year was 50-60%, with occupancy during the high summer season expected to improve to 70-90% because of the global economic recovery.
Visitors to Samui are expected to reach 1.2 million this year, up from 1.1 million in an earlier projection, as Chinese and domestic visitors are expected to increase. Revenue from these travellers is estimated at 12-13 billion baht.
Mr Seni said Chinese visitors to Samui were likely to increase by 10,000 from 25,000 last year because about 100 charter flights are scheduled this year from Chengdu, Chongqing, and Guiyang during week-long holidays for Songkran and China’s May Day.
As well, he said, negotiations were pending for charter flights from Kunming, Guangzhou, Taipei and South Korea.
The association wants to maintain its proportion of European visitors at 50-60% or 600,000 to 700,000 foreign visitors. European visitors spend an average of five to six days in Samui compared to three to four days for Asian visitors and only one day for Thai visitors.