Tourism operators in Koh Samui are calling for more direct flights to the island and an improvement in infrastructure and tourism distribution as the industry is on track for recovery after the pandemic.
President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui Ratchaporn Poolsawadee said that only 70% of independent hotels with a three- or four-star rating resumed operations following the pandemic due to cash flow constraints when compared to hotels operated by an international chain. He added that the cost of resuming hotel operations could be as high as starting a new business in some cases.
According to Ratchaporn, the number of flights to the island is currently limited to 30 to 44 flights per day, which is fewer than the pre-pandemic level of 50 per day, limiting the market’s potential. Samui welcomed the first Chinese groups via chartered flights from Chengdu this month. However, costly airfares mean that most current Chinese tourists are likely independent travelers.
He also urged the public sector to regulate safety and security measures for tourists, including preventing taxi scams and road accidents, as well as calling for the construction of mass transport networks, which could attract new investments in the future.
Meanwhile, Surat Thani Governor Vijvut Tjinto said the province expects tourist arrivals to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao to recover to the pre-pandemic level of 2.5 million this year, driven by pent-up demand and a gradual increase in flights to Samui and Surat Thani.
Vijvut said the province is now working with the Department of Employment to recruit staff who left the industry during the pandemic in an effort to resolve the labor shortage. He added that Surat Thani follows safety standards and offers security services to tourists, including at its famous Full Moon parties on Koh Phangan. (NNT)