Phuket Tourism News

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand with plenty of entertainment options, top-class shopping venues and some of the most gorgeous beaches
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Fri Oct 30, 2020 12:58 pm

2020 Sustainable Hotel Awards for Phuket

Double win by Six Senses Ko Yao Noi and the Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism in Thailand (PHIST) showcases how Phuket’s ecotourism efforts are meeting today’s sustainable development challenge. The Six Senses Ko Yao Noi and the Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism in Thailand (PHIST) both recently won coveted HICAP 2020 Sustainable Hotel Awards in the category of Positive Community Impact, showcasing how Phuket’s ecotourism efforts are meeting today’s sustainable development challenge.

The annual HICAP Sustainable Hotel Awards are designed to recognise hotels in the Asia=Pacific region that create innovative new methods, strategies, and technologies, while providing tangible examples of sustainable best practices that can be replicated and adapted across the region. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, said the two awards show that Phuket is on the right track and can inspire Thailand’s travel industry to do more.

“We’re delighted the Six Senses Yao Noi and PHIST were recognised by HICAP for these two awards. It provides motivation and inspiration for other hotel operators around Thailand to continue to implement sustainable best practices.”

Six Senses Yao Noi shares an island with a community of about 5,000 people who lack a potable water source and are dependent on plastic bottled water, causing an influx of plastic waste over many years. To address this, Six Senses expanded its Clean Water Project from Cambodia to Ko Yao Noi, and other provincial communities, providing free access to clean drinking water using on-site water filtration and glass bottling. Fifty per cent of the revenue generated from the sale of Six Senses drinking water to resort guests goes directly to clean water projects in the local community.

Cost savings were also realised by sending the hotel’s engineering team to install the equipment. This builds stronger bonds with the communities that are encouraged to utilise the clean water systems by refilling their reusable water bottles at no cost. To date, Six Senses Yao Noi’s Clean Water Project is active in more than 32 locations, including 15 filtration and dispensing units on Ko Yao Noi, improving lives by providing access to clean drinking water. Assuming an average of two bottles per person per day means over 73 million plastic bottles are eliminated annually by this programme.

The resort also addresses water stewardship holistically. All water used within the resort and host compound comes from the resort’s own water reservoir. Waste water is treated on-site and grey water is recycled for irrigation in landscaping. Community programmes have then helped improve local access to education and medical facilities that have involved habitat restoration in addition to eliminating plastic.

In the category of Positive Community Impact, the second winner is the Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism (PHIST) in Thailand. Co-organised by the Phuket Hotels Association, C9 Hotelworks, and Greenview, PHIST is a first-of-its-kind, innovative annual event rallying the hotel industry and its stakeholders for sustainability and community benefit.

Attracting over 1,000 delegates annually, PHIST serves as a model for sustainability gatherings, offering free admission and integrating local students and speakers of diverse age, gender and ethnicity alongside top hotel and travel professionals to challenge the status quo by driving an action agenda, not just talk.

During the first PHIST event, 71 hotels signed the ‘Phuket Pledge’ to eliminate single-use plastic bottles resulting in a 51% reduction and 4.4 million bottles avoided in 2019. The Great Big Green Guide, a collection of eco-friendly ideas and practices, was also launched during the event. PHIST also works to inspire the next generation with a series of children’s workshops and activities.

Supported and sponsored by Horwath HTL, HICAP (Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific) has been the annual gathering place for the Asia-Pacific’s hotel investment community attracting the most influential owners, developers, lenders, executives, and professional advisors from around the globe. HICAP is the industry’s must-attend event (virtual in 2020) for those looking to make new contacts, strengthen existing relationships, or orchestrate new development deals.
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Fri Oct 30, 2020 5:05 pm

Phuket with lowest Hotel Prices | Dertour 2020 Price Index

Phuket tops a list of the cheapest travel destinations with a 1 night stay at a hotel costing on average less than $30 USD, according to a study by the German travel company Dertour. Phuket is going through what some say is a “crisis”, certainly a current tourist vacuum. The island province largely relies on income from foreign tourists, but with travel bans over the last 7 months, hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry have been at a loss. For domestic tourists, Phuket currently offers a serene, peaceful tropical stay where you’ll have a lot of the island to yourself. There are plenty of daily flights to the island, but all from domestic locations at this stage – the international terminal remains closed.

Along with being listed as hotels with the lowest price, Phuket also made the top 5 cities with the largest price drop from 2019 to 2020, according to Dertour’s 2020 Accommodation Price Index. The company studied hotel prices for 75 popular tourist destinations around the world. Bangkok was just above Phuket at the fourth city with the largest hotel price drop. Bangkok hotel prices dropped by 34.6% while Phuket’s hotel prices dropped by 33.8%. Prices will continue to be low, CEO DER Touristik Central Europe Ingo Burmester says… “Travel itself will be cheap in 2021… Although it has been a challenging period, we have seen a great deal of interest in domestic travel.

We also predict a major catch-up effect for Mediterranean destinations, European trips and long-haul routes in 2021 as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.” Phuket ranks as the destination with the cheapest accommodation prices at an average price of US$29.00, according to the list. Average prices for 3-Star Hotels are USS$26.00 and an average of US$54.00 for 5-Star Hotels. Bangkok followed, ranking fifth on the list of cities with the lowest hotel price at an average of US$43.00 per night. 3-Star Hotels in Bangkok average at US$30.00 per night and 5-Star Hotels average at US$93.00

Top 5 destinations with the lowest price in accommodation
  • Phuket: Average of US$29.00 per Night
  • Delhi: Average of US$34.00 per Night
  • Kuala Lumpur: Average of US$36.00 per Night
  • Bali: Average of US$36.00 per Night
  • Bangkok: Average of US$43.00 per Night
Top 5 destinations with the largest price drop in accommodation
  • Amsterdam: Dropped by 51.6%
  • San Francisco: Dropped by 39.2%
  • Vancouver: Dropped by 37.1%
  • Bangkok: Dropped by 34.6%
  • Phuket: Dropped by 33.8%
More Information: ... 2020.html#
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Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:00 pm

Hoteliers emerge from 2020, the business will be hard

Globally, more than a hundred million travel and hospitality jobs will be lost in 2020 due to Covid-19. Here in Phuket, where I moved in 1988 as the opening general manager at Amanpuri, we have seen as many as 60,000 job losses in the hotel sector alone, which accounts for 86,000 registered rooms, and at this moment there is no light at the end of the tunnel, nor any date for Phuket-bound International flights on the horizon. More than four months have passed with no local infections on Phuket. Yet passenger arrivals have plunged and there are no imminent signs of recovery, despite the country opening up to domestic air travel and guests from Bangkok becoming our “weekend warriors”.

Thailand deserves high praise for its decisive actions in late March that successfully managed the spread of Covid-19 yet in closing the kingdom to all non-resident foreigners, Phuket island now finds itself at an inflexion point as local demand cannot stem the dramatic losses on Phuket, nor reverse the rapidly escalating financial and social crisis, especially in the tourist town like Patong, Kata and Karon, etc. From the very earliest days at Amanresorts, founder Adrian Zecha schooled us to make guests feel as relaxed as if they were staying in the home of a friend, which built an experience that wasn’t purely transactional, and I feel we took this even further at Trisara.

Over 30 years dealing with guests on Phuket, it’s clear that our is a business built on meaningful human connections, and as travellers start to move again in 2021 we have a unique opportunity to reconsider a few cookie cutter policies that annoy guests. Its time to get our staff back to work, for restaurants and tourist business to reopen so that Phuket can breathe again.

As President of the Phuket Hotels Association, our 78 members to prepare for the inevitable return of international arrivals. After several aborted plans, the Thai government is considering ‘green bridges’ or “bubbles” that may allow entry to foreigners from countries or regions with little or no Covid-19 infections, hopefully from countries such as New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Australia.

However, It’s going to be a very slow climb back to any reasonable numbers – thus a buyer’s market for years and those hotels that create even more special experiences, and soften some of the policies born in the 1990’s when it was a seller’s market, will emerge with greater guest experiences and social media will spread these in a positive way.

With this in mind, I propose we offer a new “Guest Bill of Rights”.
  • Frontline staff needs to be empowered to make more decisions, such as giving guests reasonable refunds or credit when they complain about an actual mistake. We all know felt the irritation as the last impression at check-out, with your flight take-off time looming, as the reception staff disappears to ask an invisible manager about removing an erroneous charge for that Toblerone you didn’t eat.
  • Overcharging for cookie-cutter minibars is over. We can and should customise the minibar with healthy (and not so healthy, this is a holiday after all) options including authentic, hygienic and plastic-free packaged local treats. Guests would buy more too, as mini bars are mostly poor investments. My favourite is the totally free local mini bar at The Greenwich, Robert De Niro’s hotel in New York.
  • No more ‘nickel and diming’ on the hotel bill. We owe it to our guests to stop profiting off necessary conveniences like bottled water with breakfast, Internet and hotel laundry.
  • Goodbye to 50% or even 100% room charges for late check-outs. Let’s be better at allocating rooms. There should always be a private space for guests who arrive before 2 pm and if hotels are not 100% full, guests should be able to leave after midday without being whacked with a half-day charge.
  • Breakfast should be included, full stop, and let breakfast finish late. Since there is nothing more luxurious than a long, relaxed breakfast on a holiday, guests should not have to rush down to their first meal of the day simply because the chef wants to start prepping for lunch at 10:00 am.
  • We can and must protect our fragile Island, the planet at the same time. Drinking water should be in glass bottles, plentiful and complimentary. There must be a unilateral end to plastic shampoo bottles and laundered garments shrouded in cling plastic have to go. In Phuket, we challenged our member hotels to remove plastic water bottles in 2018, which resulted in a reduction of six million plastic bottles from our landfills.
Our industry’s humble beginnings offer valuable lessons for any hotel’s future success. What was not optional for a medieval innkeeper should guide the 21st-century hotelier: buy local, being support for our local communities, engagement with and protection of the local environment.
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Sat Nov 07, 2020 4:52 pm

The Phuket ‘light rail’ may end up being an electric bus instead

The Phuket mass rapid transport system, "aka. Phuket Light Rail and Phuket Tram", is receiving more attention as the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand mull more changes to the design. The initial route, which would run from the Phuket Airport, follow the main north/south artery, Thepkasattri Road, then through Phuket Town and on to Chalong circle, has a projected budget of 35 Billion THB. The projected first phase route would run nearly 42 kilometres.

Now the designers are considering moving from a light rail carriage system that would run on rails, to an electric ‘bus’ model that would run along a normal road on rubber wheels. Consultants for the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand say they’re looking to adjust the operating system to reduce construction costs. They cited studies in foreign countries that have adapted to the of use rubber-wheeled electric vehicles and saved both construction and operating costs.

For the Phuket Light Rail project they project savings up to 10 Billion THB in construction costs along with cheaper fares. The projected cost savings could total nearly a third of the total projected Light Rail budget. Critics note that, whether a tram, bus or a light rail carriage, the planned route would do nothing for the island’s tourism industry as the service goes nowhere near Phuket’s west coast. (Of course any light rail would be totally unsuitable for the west coast’s undulating topography.)

The draft terms of reference, submitted to the MRTA, don’t specify that the new public transport system must be developed into a train or tram only. According to the latest study, only about 39,000 passengers per day were found to be using the system. The current consultants are now investigating the merits of a Bus Rapid Transit, but using electric vehicles running along a centre ‘road’ designed to carry just the buses. the final proposal is expected to be proposed to the Cabinet for approval this year and open for service in 2026.

The transport minister said the details on how to construct the central road, stops and separation from the other traffic, would be a lot easier than a tram or light rail concept. “Using road medians should not be a problem. The MRTA has discussed with the Department of Highways to dismantle the road medians, rework the road surface and use the barrier between the lanes of the BRT bus and general cars.” “To use the road median area to develop the (new) BRT bus route, the MRTA must study the opportunity to develop a commercial area or further adjustment.”

The planned north/south route is planned to have 21 stops. In the future, there are also plans to extend the project to connect with a similar system which would travel north of the island, across Sarasin Bridge and into Phang Nga.
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Mon Nov 23, 2020 4:17 pm

Covid-19 gives Thailand’s Southern Sea Gypsies a break

Phuket’s sea gypsy communities are getting a much needed break after the Covid tourism standstill have their traditions a break from the tourism onslaught. 42 year old Sanan Changham says now there is an abundance of fish and shellfish to eat. Tourist boats have been docked at the quay, making fishing easier for the Chao Lay, or “people of the sea.“ “We don’t dive as deep as before, so it’s less dangerous.“

More than 9 million visitors came to Phuket in 2019, impacting the sea gypsies and their way of life, mostly located at the southern end of the island. The booming tourism brought a decline in fish stocks, decreasing fishing grounds and loud construction of hotels. And the traffic. Such hotels signal an even bigger threat to the 1,200 Chao Lay in Rawai, as property developers have tried to evict them from their ancestral strip of land that faces the sea.

Ngim Damrongkaset, a Rawai community representative, says he hopes the area where developers have taken a stake is abandoned. “They want to drive us out of our homes, but also to deny us access to the sea.” For the Chao Lay people, the fight to keep their land has been unequal as most are illiterate and were unaware of the fact that they could register their land, but the government is trying to help them. One way for authorities to buy the land and entrust it to them.

Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, says the government must seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to rethink their vision on Chao Lay. “Covid is an opportunity to change mentalities. Mass tourism in Phuket has been a catastrophe for the sea gypsies.“ The land in Rawai was originally claimed by Indonesian ancestors of Sanan, before the island became flooded with international travellers. But since tourism has become more profitable, authorities have cracked down on the sea gypsies unless they are sailing in protected marine reserves. “Before, we risked being arrested by a patrol or having our boats confiscated.“

For the animist Chao Lay the beach is a vital space where they keep their colourful wooden boats and where they pray and give thanks to their ancestors. But not only their unique cultural heritage has helped them navigate the waters. The Chao Lay people are experts at detecting any abnormalities in the water, as such they were able to escape before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit, while saving loads of tourists. Furthermore, Children of the Moken have 50% better visual acuity in the water than their European counterparts, according to a 2003 study.
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Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:29 pm

Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds. Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia - are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation. “We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving. Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.” “We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email
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Sat Dec 12, 2020 4:03 pm

Phuket Taxis and Tuk Tuks ripp off's

Local Phuket transport and provincial officials are AGAIN trying to tackle the island’s notorious taxi and tuk tuk ‘mafias’, after another passenger complained of being ripped off. The island has a long history of extortionate transport costs for local taxis and tuk tuks, giving Phuket a poor and infamous reputation for over-priced transport and rude drivers.

Efforts to attract travellers back to the island, after 9 months of almost zero international tourism, hit another speed bump this week after a domestic traveller posted a complaint on social media, claiming she was ripped off by a taxi driver who charged her 200 baht per kilometre. Her complaint mirrors thousands of complaints received by local transport authorities and a long list of similar stories on TripAdvisor and social media over the years.

On average travellers in Phuket can expect to pay 3-5 times the fares charged by similar services in Bangkok. Even the online services like Grab have been forced to match their prices to the local, highly inflated rates around Phuket. Posting on social media on December 07.2020 the traveller wondered if the rate she was bring charged was normal.

“Is it the normal rate. I thought I was in a taxi in a foreign country.”

Her post kicked the provincial governor into gear and forced transport officials to respond. She was travelling with 2 others and 3 items of luggage, according to her post. Phuket’s governor Narong Woonciew says that he’s had ordered local authorities to contact the disgruntled passenger to check the details in her social media post as well as provincial transport authorities to check and make sure local taxis follow the official rate.

Phuket’s long history and issues with the local tuk tuk and taxi mafia have been a thorn in the side of provincial and tourism officials who have been powerless to counter the cabal of local families who control the system and threaten any new players, including state-sponsored buses, from providing any sort of competition. The Thai government and police have also stepped in and been similarly driven out of town, impotent against the gangs and ‘big money’.

Local business people and tourism operators believe the comments from the governor and provincial transport officials, and their promised ‘investigation’ are just paying lip-service to the passenger’s woes and, as usual, little will change. The problems start when travellers step off their planes and are confronted with little choice other than the private taxis and meters that rarely work, despite the law stating that all registered taxis must use a meter. Many of these taxi meters are also doctored and have been turbo-charged to tick over must faster than the legal kilometre rate.

Another high profile case was in July 2019, when 2 Australian tourists filed complaints at Karon police station when a passenger van driver charged them 3,000 THB to take them from Phuket airport to a hotel less than 50 kilometres away. The official rate sets the taxi fare at 50 THB for the first 2 kilometres, 12 THB for the 2nd to the 15th kilometre and 10 THB for the 15th kilometre and beyond, according to the Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, Phuket’s governor invited domestic airlines to increase the number of flights to Phuket. There are currently 60-70 flights per day, down from 300 flights before services were grounded at the start of April. Even so, there are still spare seats on the local flights, according to Thaiger staff who travel regularly between their offices in Bangkok and Phuket.

A few other posts from TripAdvisor (there are also plenty of good experiences listed on the site too). We advise doing your homework before jumping into a taxi or tuk tuk in Phuket.
  • “Don’t be fooled by the desk at the exit from the airport! They are coordinating the prices and taking too much money!
    Go to the main entrance of the airport and pick up a formal taxi on your own! Will save you a lot!”
  • “To say this was the worst services I have ever expirance is to put it lightly. They charge a flat rate for all destinations, and as we were heading to Kata Beach, we thought that was fair. Absolute disaster.
  • The cab didn’t want to take us as we were a long distance, and tried to bundle us in to a joint cab, even though we had paid 1000 THB, for a private car. After 20 mins my wife went to the ‘controller’ in the cabbie hut and he closed the window on her!!!
  • After an hour, and several attempts to get into cabs and get our money back, we went and got the airport police to help us, and the cab company quickly gave us a refund. We got in a meter cab within in minutes and it ended up being cheaper.”
  • “Tuk Tuk drivers charge tourists more than they charge locals, this is disgusting. One of the most boring things in Patong is being harassed by Tuk Tuk drivers every second they are in your face saying Tuk Tuk Taxi, I have no idea where they think they are going to take you, they seem to think everyone wants a Tuk Tuk all the time. If you want to go to Phuket town take the bus its only 30 THB.”
  • “My friends and I agreed on a price with the driver. Then halfway to our hotel he pulls over and asks for more money. We said no so he kept going. Then he pulled about 2 or 3km still to our hotel and tells us to get out. We argued with him and then gave him the money as he was so rude and wouldn’t take us the rest of the way. We had to pay for another tuk tuk to take us the rest of the way. A few days later we thought we would give them another chance and he dropped us in the middle of nowhere. HORRIBLE EXPERIENCES!!!!”
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