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Increased accessibility expected to attract more tourists to the island
Samui’s tourism sector is set to improve with the Civil Aviation Department’s recent granting for Samui Airport to increase its flight capacity from 36 to 50 flights per day late last year. Hotels on the island are expected to enjoy a pick-up in demand as the increased accessibility should attract more tourists to Samui, according to JLL, a professional services firm specializing in real estate.
There are currently five airlines offering direct flights to Samui from Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong, George Town, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Kunming. These include Bangkok Airways, THAI, Firefly, Silkair and Lucky Air. Lucky Air was the latest airline flying to Samui, launching three flights per week from Kunming since last August. All in all, there is currently an average of 38 flights to and from Samui per day. In addition to direct flights, AirAsia launched an all-in-one service with flights from Bangkok to Surat Thani Airport on the mainland with a connecting ferry to Koh Samui.
Andrew Langdon, Executive Vice President of the Hotels and Hospitality Group at JLL, said “Increasing air capacity will improve connectivity and strengthen Samui’s position as one of Thailand’s prominent tourist destinations. This is good news for hotels on the island as we expect an improvement in tourist demand and hence hotel occupancies.”
“The political turmoil that affected the Bangkok hotel market last year did not have a significant impact on the Samui hotel market,” said Mr. Langdon.
Whilst the Bangkok hotel market saw a dip in the average occupancy rate from 74.3% in 2013 to 57.8% in 2014, occupancies of hotels on Koh Samui remained relatively stable, averaging above 70%, according to STR Global.
“There were a number of factors that helped sustained trading performance of hotels in Samui last year. Asides from the fact that Samui was isolated from the political turbulence, hotel openings in Koh Samui in 2014 was limited, with only one notable new opening -- the 208-key OZO Samui located in Chaweng, “ Mr. Langdon explained.
Between 2015 and 2018, an additional 680 rooms in branded hotels are scheduled for completion on Koh Samui. However, JLL does not expect this new room supply to have a material downward pressure on hotel occupancies in the island.
“Demand growth is likely to keep pace with new hotel supply, given improving accessibility to Samui. While visitors from Australia and Europe have been the top source markets for hotels on Koh Samui, we have seen the number of regional visitors to the island rising. The number of visitors from mainland China in particular is expected to grow further with an improvement in air connectivity,” said Mr. Langdon.
“Going forward, we anticipate that Koh Samui will continue to position itself as Thailand’s high-end resort destination as more luxury brands establish their presence on the Island. Most of the new hotel projects are in the four to five star segment. We have also seen a trend of hotel rebranding such as The Passage Samui Villas & Resort to Movenpick Laem Yai Beach and the Imperial Samui Beach to the Sheraton Samui (scheduled to be operational in April 2015). However, the growing number of regional visitors is also offering growing opportunities for the budget, economy and midscale hotel segment as evidenced by the remarkable success of the OZO Samui resort,” Mr. Langdon concluded.
Branded hotels planned for completion between 2015 and 2018
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