Why is Phuket suffering thousands of hotel cancellations?


Phuket has multiple sea excursion options for tourists. Source: Shutterstock

THAILAND has suffered a series of tragedies this summer.

The rescue of the young Thai football team and their coach trapped in a cave resulted in the death of former Navy SEAL, Saman Kunan on July 6, 2018.

Fortunately though, on July 10, 2018, all 12 footballers and their coach made it out of the cave alive thanks to the heroism of their rescuers.

The same, however, can’t be said for the 47 Chinese tourists who lost their lives in a terrible boat accident off the southern Thai island of Phuket on July 5, 2018.

The boat, known as the Phoenix, capsized around seven kilometers out to sea.

Of the 105 passengers onboard the capsized boat, 93 of them were from China.

Rescued survivors from the capsized boat. Source: BMF news / Twitter.

Asia One reported that 7,300 hotel bookings between July and August have been canceled by Chinese tourists following the incident. This figure is only expected to increase.

Chinese visitors account for 10 million of the nearly 36 million tourists that visit Thailand each year, with around three million traveling to Phuket.

Southern Hoteliers’ Association president Kongsak Kupongsakorn told The Straits Times that 19 member hotels had reported their cancellations but a further 160 are yet to declare how many bookings have been abandoned due to the tragedy.

Andaman Sea tourism business association president Chiaya Rapuepol echoes Kongsak’s speculations of just how much damage the boat accident might do to Phuket’s tourism industry.

Chiaya estimated as much as THB42 billion (US$1.3 billion) could be lost in revenues over the next two months. This is a substantial chunk of the THB350 billion baht generated in tourism per year.

Taking tourists on day trips to sea is a major source of income for Thai locals. Source: Shutterstock

However, Phuket Governor Napat Prodthong thinks he may have the answer to saving the island’s tourism industry.

He is calling upon the government to set up a command center which will control all Andaman Sea tourist activities across the Phang Nga province.

Part of the command center would issue trained inspectors to examine all incoming and outgoing boasts. This way, safety measures can be better enforced.

For now, however, the government has announced it will be upgrading safety rules and regulations to prevent anything like this from happening again.

If you’re planning on taking a sea excursion on your next vacation, remember to always wear a life jacket, take note of the emergency exits, and always trusts your instincts.