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% during the first quarter of 2014.
According to figures from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) eight domestic offices and two coordination centres in Southern Thailand, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chumphon and Surat Thani have been attracting a consistently high number of tourists during January-March 2014.
In Krabi and Phang Nga, hotels reported occupancy rates hovering at 75% and 78%, respectively, levels that match last year’s numbers. These high 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) to Southern resorts and enjoy our pristine beaches and islands for weekends as well as for longer stays.”
Phang Nga, just one hour’s drive from Phuket, recorded an average length of stay of 5.81 days. About 90% of visitors to Phang Nga are from overseas, with tourists from Germany topping the rank in terms of arrivals, followed by visitors from Scandinavia and other European countries.
Phang Nga can boast the highest numbers of tourist arrivals as well as visitors to its many attractions. 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 visitors arriving every day. On the mainland, the recently opened Dairy Hut Farm on Phang Nga-Tubpud Road has been a great success and is particularly popular with family holiday-makers and teenagers.
In Krabi, which has its own airport but can also be reached via Phuket (about 176km or two hours by car), community-based tourism activities such as those found at Ban Ko Klang, Khlong Prasong and Ko Poo and Ko Jum are popular among travelers.
Inland, tourism activities such as cycling trips amid the limestone peaks and rubber plantations are popular. Tourists also get the chance to see palm plantations and take boat trips to learn about the community’s ecology and mangrove forests.
Chumphon, another Southern Thai province on the coast of 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%.
In the Chumphon province itself, popular destinations include Hat Sairee, Hat Tung Wua Laen and the Shrine of Krom Luang Chomphon, which are favourite destinations among local travelers.
Nearby, Surat Thani is also attracting an increasing number of meetings and incentives from travelers and stop-over tourists who are 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 are still attracting local and international tourists. Occupancy rates for hotels in this area are at an impressive 95%.