Tourists bookings in Phuket fall 80-90%

POLICE SUSPECT ONE OF THE TWO BOAT COMPANIES LINKED TO ‘ZERO-DOLLAR TOUR’

Around 7,300 rooms at 19 local hotels booked by Chinese tourists have been cancelled, causing over 100 million baht in losses, following the Phoenix tour boat tragedy which claimed 47 of their compatriots’ lives early this month.

Kongkiat Khuphongsakorn, president of a southern hotel association, said yesterday the booking rate has fallen sharply by 80%-90% at Patong beach and by 50% across the province after the incident.

Besides Chinese visitors, hotel bookings have also been cancelled by foreigners from other countries, he said.

Mr Kongkiat said the Phoenix tour boat disaster would affect Chinese tourists for the next three months but would only have a short-term impact on visitors from other countries.

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“The damage is more than seven million baht based on 7,300 rooms costing around 1,000 baht each.

However, the accident doesn’t only affect hotels but also other tourism sectors such as shuttle buses, tour boats and local shops and restaurants.

Chinese tourists often spend around 20,000 baht per person, per visit,” he said. Which would deprive surrounding businesses of a further 146 million baht.

Mr Kongkiat, however, said the government’s efforts to overhaul safety measures across all forms of transport would play a pivotal role in regaining the confidence of foreign travellers.

The Phoenix dive boat capsized with 101 people on board — 89 tourists, all but two from China, and 12 crew — when returning to port after a trip on July 5.

Patong Hotel Association president Salisa Limsakul echoed these sentiments, saying the number of Chinese visitors to Patong Beach has dropped following the accident.

Southern provinces rely on Asian tourists, particularly the Chinese, during the low season, she said.

Phuket Tourism Council president Sarayut Mallam urged Thai agencies to step up efforts to reclaim confidence in the country’s marine tourism and publicise the presence of stringent safety checks. – The Bangkok Post

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