by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
Thailand’s southern beach resort regions remain some of the most popular holiday destinations for international tourists with hotels in the area reporting occupancy rates of up to 78 percent during the first quarter of this year.
According to figures from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT), eight domestic offices and two coordination centers in Southern Thailand, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chumphon and Surat Thani have been attracting a consistently high number of tourists.
In Krabi and Phang Nga, hotels reported occupancy rates hovering at 75 and 78 percent, respectively, levels that match last year’s numbers. These healthy occupancy rates can be attributed to the enduring popularity of islands in Krabi, such as, Ao Maya, Ko Hong and Hat Railay, which are thronged with local and international tourists especially during the long public holidays.
Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT governor, said, “The figures speak for themselves that Thailand remains a popular and welcoming tourist destination. Our southern provinces, in particular Phuket, Krabi and Samui, have seen an increasing number of domestic and international direct flights, meaning that foreign visitors and locals alike can cut down the travelling time (needed to travel via Bangkok).”
Phang Nga, just one hour’s drive from Phuket, recorded an average length of stay of 5.81 days. About 90 percent of visitors to Phang Nga are from overseas, with tourists from Germany topping the rank, followed by Scandinavia and other European countries.
Phang Nga can boast the highest number of tourist arrivals as well as visitors. Ao Phang Nga recorded approximately 5,000 visitors per day; Ko Khai saw some 3,000 visitors per day, with Ko Ta Chai attracting some 400 daily visitors. The Similan and Surin Islands each saw some 200-300 daily arrivals.
In Krabi, which has its own airport but can also be reached via Phuket (about 176 km or two hours by car), it is the community-based tourism activities such as those found at Ban Ko Klang, Khlong Prasong and Ko Poo and Ko Jum that are popular. Inland, tourism activities such as cycling trips amid the limestone peaks and rubber plantations are popular. Tourists can see palm plantations and take boat trips to learn about the community’s ecology and mangrove forests.
Chumphon, on the Gulf of Thailand, remains popular, being the port that serves the famous Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan islands. The region has recently maintained its normal occupancy rate of around 55 percent. Popular destinations in Chumphon province include Hat Sairee, Hat Tung Wua Laen, and the Shrine of Krom Luang Chomphon.
Nearby Surat Thani is also attracting an increasing number of meetings and incentives travelers and stopover tourists looking to continue their journey to other destinations, including the famous Ko Samui, Ko Phangan or Ko Tao. Surat Thani’s Ratchaprapa Dam and water reservoir, farm stays, and important religious sites still attract local and international tourists. Occupancy rates for hotels in this area are an impressive 95 percent.