Coincidence or trend?
That’s the question I’m asking after coming across the number 34 twice in recent days -that is a 34% increase in the number of Chinese visitors* to both Australia and distant Phuket.
China at the controls
Chinese tourists are driving growth in both markets – which in a nice twist also happen to be competitors.
In fact it’s a safe bet that without China’s momentum there wouldn’t be growth either in Australia and Phuket, or Thailand for that matter. And say this without doing the sums. It just makes sense.
Analyst Bill Barnett of C9 Hotelworks, who has just published the latest edition of his annual Phuket accommodation report, says the incredible year on year Chinese growth, which continues despite coming off a bigger base each time, has surprised the market.
“China based-tourists were thought to be on the wane given the country’s economic woes and depreciating currency (but) the reality on the ground is that many travelers who might have chosen long haul trips to Europe, North America or Australia have instead flocked to Thailand. ”
Overall international airline passenger numbers into Phuket rose 8% in 2015, though the extra demand hasn’t had any impact on room rates, which were flat a 1% , which Barnett says is a result of failing to hold their nerve and panic selling.
“A rise in OTA’s, wholesalers and shorter booking periods of less than 30 days is seeing hotels push the over-react button on rates and in many cases short selling their product,” says Barnett.
“It’s a shifting market that has confused the traditional hotel yield mechanism and much of the demise in rates aside from a major change in geographic segments is panic selling.”
Meanwhile, in Australia the market is mixed. Cities like Darwin, Brisbane and Perth are under pressure while it’s often hard to get a room in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.
And when you do you pay for it.
* For Phuket it’s 2015 v 2014 while in Australia it’s December 14 v December 15.