After chaos from a tsunami warning on Wednesday, tourists have already returned to the beaches in southern destinations like Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga, with hotel cancellations running just 10-20% during Songkran.
The Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says most hotel cancellations are coming from local travellers who are not in the mood to head to the South during Songkran.
“Today, Patong Beach is full of tourists having a sunbath and swimming in the sea,” said Suchart Hirunkanokkul, the chapter president.
“The tourism atmosphere has returned to normal and we strongly believe that if the situation runs well like this, the tourism business won’t be hurt as many people expected.”
Mr Suchart, who is managing director of Phuket Graceland Resort in Patong, said some guests gave flowers to hotel staff and expressed gratitude for taking good care of them during the anxious situation of the tsunami scare. Other hotels also received similar thank-you messages and flowers from guests.
Kongkrit Hiranyakit, president for policy and planning at the Tourism Council of Thailand, called it an opportunity to highlight the management of natural disasters as a strong selling point for the country.
“We found the cancellations were only 10-20% of total bookings during April 12-16,” he said.
Mr Kongkrit suggested to Somboon Jirayus, president of the Phuket Tourism Association, that hoteliers and tourism operators in the South should not play with pricing.
“Don’t let travel agents depress prices, because tourist reaction is still very positive,” Mr Kongkrit said.
“Tourists understood that it was a natural disaster, not terrorism,” Mr Kongkrit added.
“They should show that Thailand has good crisis management, which was obvious yesterday, and that tourists and local people can be relocated to safe places.”
Susdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said some groups from Japan have cancelled trips to Phuket but the figure is insignificant.