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Thailand: Phuket Cracks Down on Unlicensed Hotels

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Hotels and resorts dot the emerald shores of Phuket, Thailand, which has been attracting a growing number of foreign tourists in recent years. Photo Credit: Phuket Hotels Association.

Hospitality News

More than three-fourths of hotels and resorts in the popular Southern Thai province of Phuket are operating without a license as record numbers of foreign tourists continue to flock to the tropical island’s emerald shores.

A clear majority of the millions of travelers visiting Phuket each year stay at unlicensed hotels and resorts. As a result, Phuket is being denied tax revenue that could otherwise be used to improve the island’s tourism infrastructure.

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According to C9 Hotelworks, a hospitality consulting group, only 429 out of 1,724 hotels and resorts on the island are currently licensed. That works out to less than one-fourth of the island’s hotels and resorts.

According to Phuket’s Provincial Administration Office, of the 1,295 unlicensed hotels identified in Phuket, only six have had their licenses approved. A further 1,001 are pending approval, while 288 have not yet applied.

Phuket’s former Governor Chokchai Dejamornthan announced plans for a crackdown on unlicensed hotels late last year, urging travelers not to stay at unregistered hotels. He set a deadline for hotels to register by 31 January 2017.

Half a year later, however, and little has changed.

New Hotels

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According to an analysis by C9 Hotelworks, 33 hotels are currently under development in Phuket, and they will collectively add 5,738 more hotel rooms to the island‘s hotel room inventory.  

The luxurious Rosewood Phuket (pictured above) is set to open in October 2017. Part of an aggressive Asian expansion plan, it will be the first Asian resort for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.

Overlooking Emerald Bay, the resort will have 71 pavilions and villas, a private beach, a fitness center, and complete facilities for meetings and events.   

One of the hotel's features will be a free-form "organic" swimming pool with Jacuzzi, lap pool, activity pool, and children's pool.

The hotel's spa will have six wellness suites, an outdoor relaxation area, a Watsu pool, a salt sauna, a rain shower, and a spa bath. There will even be a garden growing herbs and other ingredients used in spa treatments. 

Food and beverage outlets will include a restaurant serving Southern Italian fare, a poolside restaurant serving local and international seafood dishes, a poolside lounge and bar deck, and a beach-side restaurant serving traditional dishes.

Other multinational hotel brands currently developing hotels and resorts in Phuket include Sheraton, JW Marriott, Best Western, InterContinental, Park Hyatt, Kempinski, and Ramada.

Phuket International Airport

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Phuket International Airport is Thailand’s third busiest airport after Bangkok’s two airports, Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang International Airport.

Located in Northern Phuket, Phuket International Airport is served by nearly 60 domestic and foreign airlines. It is a hub for three domestic carriers: Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, and Thai Airways.

The airport has two terminals, one serving domestic airlines, the other serving international airlines.

Several foreign air carriers serve the airport, with flights to nearby travel destinations such as Australia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand

Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways are among the foreign carriers flying to more distant travel destinations.

The three Middle Eastern airlines offer connecting service to Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East through their respective hubs in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Doha, Qatar.

Phuket International Airport registered 15.1 arrivals and departures in 2016, representing 17.8 % growth over the previous year.

Strong Demand

Strong demand from China, Russia, and other emerging markets has resulted in strong growth in arrivals at Phuket International Airport.

Fully 17 Chinese airlines are now serving Phuket, and China accounts for two-thirds of Asian traffic at the airport. Chinese passenger arrivals grew by 8% during the first five months of 2017. Russian passenger traffic rose by an even sharper 17%.

Fast Track Meet and Greet Service

Passengers arriving at or departing from Phuket International Airport often face lines of more than one hour at customs.

Phuket Airport VIP Services offers VIP arrival and departure services that provide assistance with luggage and whisk passengers through fast-track customs counters and to either their gate or the arrival hall.

Visa-on-arrival services can also be fast-tracked for travelers from 15 countries.

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