HOTEL occupancy on Koh Samui rose to 75 per cent in 1H2013, driven by rising international arrivals and mounting demand from the domestic market.


Some 874,824 visitors arrived on the Gulf of Thailand island from January to June, causing occupancy to grow seven percentage points to 75 per cent year-on-year, according to C9 Hotelworks’ Samui Hotel Market Update.


RevPAR increased 18 per cent year-on-year to just over US$100, outpacing the market-wide seven per cent growth in average room rates (ARR).


Thailand was the island’s second largest source market, accounting for more than 100,000 visitors, most of whom travelled overland due to costly Samui flights. Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, said the growth in Thai arrivals was positive while price barriers helped stem overdevelopment.


“At the end of day, the lack of low-cost access does mute broad growth but is this necessarily a bad thing?” he said. “Samui’s growth is much more pragmatic and points towards a more sustainable model than the hyper-tourist markets of the two-P’s – Pattaya and Phuket.”


Budget and economy hotels posted the highest growth in occupancy (12 per cent). The segment also posted the strongest RevPAR growth at 23 per cent, followed by luxury (20 per cent), midscale (18 per cent) and upscale (14 per cent).


There was marginal difference in occupancy rates between branded and non-branded properties, but branded resorts recorded 34 per cent higher ARR figures than independent operators.


International arrivals by air, which accounted for more than half of the island’s visitors, climbed 61 per cent to 490,572 passengers while domestic arrivals rose three per cent. Some 70 per cent of air travellers came through international gateways in Singapore and Hong Kong, the latter of which has posted CAGR of 18 per cent over the past five years.


Germany remains the number one source market, accounting for 12 per cent of arrivals, followed by Thailand (11 per cent) and Russia (nine per cent), which moved up two places from the same period last year.


India and Austria both posted strong double-digit growth while the British and Italian legacy markets declined significantly. Russia and China are emerging as key source markets for Thailand (TTG Asia e-Daily, April 30, 2013).