Phuket tourism plummets as tourists cancel thousands of hotel bookings after boat tragedy | Travel News | Travel
Phuket, Thailand, has seen its tourist industry struggle in recent weeks as thounsands of hotel room booknings are cancelled by Chinese tourists.
The dramatic shift comes after a a tragic boat accident on 5 July when 47 tourists, all Chinese, were killed.
The boat, called the Phoenix, had capszized off the coast of popular tourist island Phuket.
The Royal Thai Marine Corps said in a statement that the Phoenix sank about seven kms (five miles) from the shore and the boat had sunk to a depth of about 38-40 metres (yards).
Chinese tourists make up huge swathes of the tourist numbers to Phuket, with three million visiting the island each year.
Of the 105 passengers on the boat that capsized, 93 were Chinese.
It is becoming clear that the negative impacts of the accident are more serious and widespread than previously thought.
So far, 7,300 hotel room bookings for July and August have been cancelled by Chinese tourists – and it’s believed this number is set to rise.
Kongsak Kupongsakorn, president of the Southern Hoteliers’ Association, said 19 member hotels had already reported their cancellations while another 160 hotels have yet to file their reports, according to Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper.
Hotel room cancellations are estimated to account for 10-15 per cent of the total business in Phuket.
Lost tourism and related revenues over the next two months could cost Thailand as much as Bt42 billion (£952 million), said Chiaya Rapuepol, president of the Andaman Sea tourism business association.
Rapuepol wants the government to restore confidence in tourist safety and prevent any further damage to the industry.
However, the Thai government did take remedial measures following the boat accident.
They intend to revamp safety rules and regulations as well as set up a command centre to regulate all Andaman Sea tourist activities in the nearby Phang Nga province.
Thailand is in the midst of its monsoon season which begins in May and usually ends in October.
The monsoon season often brings high winds to coastal areas and flash storms.
More than 20 people were killed when a tourist boat carrying 150 people capsized in Thailand’s ancient city of Ayutthaya in 2016.
Officials blamed the accident on overcrowding and reckless piloting.
Thailand is already making headlines after a young football team consisting of 12 boys and their junior coach were rescued after becoming trapped in a cave in the north of the island.
The group are still recovering in hospital after being trapped underground for two weeks.
Wearing face masks to reduce the risk of infection the boys, aged from 11 to 16, spoke for the first time since being saved last week in a major operation involving 10 British cave rescuers in to thank their rescuers.