Friday, 3 January 2020

Are Tourist Figures Up or Down?


The simple answer is that no one really knows. All tourists staying at both hotels and private villas should be registered on arrival. Thus, the question should be easy to answer. However, the custodian of tourist figures is TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and they are famous for being far from transparent. Their agenda is to promote tourism, increase revenues; not to publish accurate records.

Any Thailand watcher will have noticed that most stories in Thai Visa and elsewhere have quotes from industry figures, anecdotal comments from hotel owners, but few verifiable facts.

There are figures available on the official TAT website (https://marketingdb.tat.or.th/en/web/guest/tatwebportallink)  if you follow the link in the footer. These show arrivals to all the main international airports in Thailand. The caveat is that they only display the last 2 days compared to the same day last year. For 1st and 2nd January 2020 arrivals are actually up 3.9% on 2019. On 1st January 2020 51,901 people entered the Kingdom of Thailand at Suvarnabhumi Airport. So should hotel owners, bar owners, tour operators etc. be worried?

Well industry bigwigs such as TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) chief Yuthasak Suphasorn thinks so (https://thethaiger.com/hot-news/tourism/tat-chief-blames-high-baht-for-drop-in-tourists-to-thailand). On June 29th 2019 Suphasorn claimed the previous 3 months had seen a drop in tourist numbers. More recently, Thai Visa published an article (https://forum.thaivisa.com/topic/1141495-phuket-facing-worst-tourism-crisis-in-three-decades-half-of-hotel-rooms-empty-in-2020/?utm_source=newsletter-20200103-1246&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news) claiming industry experts expect a 20% drop in tourism in Phuket in 2020. Articles such as these are designed to generate comments below the line for Thai Visa Forum and for industry Brahmins to put pressure on the government.

The comments below the line invariably pick up on the same remedies - lower the value of the Baht, change the visa system, reign in the con men and the overcharging taxi drivers and stop making new regulations to inhibit tourism such as banning vaping, enforcing licensing hours, and making life difficult for ex-pats with more burdensome requirements for reporting their whereabouts and income.

All of these things impact tourist revenues. In the past the upswing in tourists from China has off set falls in numbers of European tourists. Indian tourists are also cited as being the new cash cow. Those with just the briefest knowledge of Chinese tour groups and Indian tourists will know that the situation is not that straight forward. For a start those on tours tend to spend most of their money buying the tour in their own country and may well not add much to the local Thai communities where they visit. Moreover, bar girls and others who work in the demimonde find such tourists economically small fry.

On the ground anecdotal evidence abounds. Thong Nai Pan in Koh Phangan had periods during the high season for the summer holidays in 2019 where not a soul was to be seen, the bars empty, the dive boats left at their moorings. People complain in Phuket that hotels are virtually empty but room prices are high. The grizzled veterans of girly bars claim the night economy is not a fraction of what it once was.

Common deflection strategies include mentioning the increased competition from Vietnam as a holiday destination, the trade war between China and the USA, and the impact of Brexit. These are clever ruses to avoid dealing with the Thai Baht that is ridiculously high - getting only 30 odd Baht for one British Pound is profoundly off putting, especially as Thai businesses work on a model of increasing prices every year. And then there is the junta continually changing the rules. Visas are waived and then required. Where you can renew visas is a constant question asked. Confusion over travel insurance abounds, and what the government insurance policy actually provides. Hey you might as well go to Vietnam. Despite having a communist regime, they seem more in tune with the requirements of tourists.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sand in My Shoes Beach Loft


Those who have visited Thong Nai Pan Noi will know that the perfect spot on the beach is in the middle, just past the monotony of the Rasananda spread of luxury bungalows and just before the fiefdom of Thong Tapan. It is the spot where Pong's used to be, and the Flip Flop Pharmacy. Now it is the Sand in My Shoes restaurant. To maximise the revenue from the superlative location they are now offering accommodation.

The Sand in My Shoes Beach Loft consists of 2 rooms in a building behind the restaurant for rent. One is the Family Room and the other is the Deluxe Double Room.


Family Room at Sand in My Shoes

The family room has a total internal space of 64 metres squared. It contains 2 double beds and 2 sofa beds and so theoretically could sleep a family of 6. There is a hot water bathroom with shower as well as a balcony. The room has air-con and cable TV.

The room has a modern decor with new furnishings. Hardwoods and neutral tones create a relaxing and stylish atmosphere. There is also a small open closet with a safe on the floor to store your valuables.

Room rates for the family room start at 8,500 Thai Baht a night. This price includes breakfast at the restaurant.

Deluxe Double Room at Sand in My Shoes

The cheaper deluxe double room has an internal space of 32 metres squared. There is a hot water shower, air-con and a cable TV. The room also has an adjoining balcony with sea views and table and chairs.

This room is finished to a high standard. While there are hardwood floors the walls are bare concrete. It gives the room a modern and minimalist feel and is a style popular in Thailand (although I suspect a style that will soon look dated).

Price per night for the deluxe double room start at 6,800 Thai Baht. This price includes breakfast at the Sand in My Shoes Restaurant.

Conclusion

These 2 rooms are somewhat on the expensive side. The same price can get you a private villa. However, they are just a stone's throw from the beach (in the picture you can see the rooms behind the beachfront restaurant). They are nicely finished and comfortable.

For some people staying next to a restaurant is convenient. For others it can be noisy, and although the rooms have their own entrances separate to the restaurant there could be issues for those who highly value their privacy. The restaurant normally stops serving food at about 10pm and is normally empty by midnight. It is a popular spot to eat and has plenty of great reviews. The good news for people booking to stay at Sand in My Shoes is that it is not a party spot with loud music, so you won't be kept awake all night by banging techno beats.

The staff are friendly and have garnered plenty of positive feedback  from guests staying in the rooms.

Click here to check availability for Sand in My Shoes

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Room at the Inn


 Here we are again. Another year ending and a new one soon to begin. We are in the silly season of embarrassing sweaters and eyebrow raising prices for beach accommodation. If you are lucky enough to be staying in Thong Nai Pan for Christmas and / or New Year's Eve but haven't booked a place to stay yet, here are the options available to you. Bear in mind that minimum stay requirements will apply. New Year's is the most coveted time to stay on the beach so this is peak time plus. Some resorts might have rooms available that they are not releasing them through the net.

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Thong Tapan has rooms for Christmas left starting at 1,800 Thai Baht

Sandee Bungalow seems to have forgot its Christmas. Rooms for this time are only 500 Thai Baht. Nothing is available on line for New Year (I suspect they are having a holiday themselves).

Buri Rasa has rooms for both Xmas and New Year. Christmas rooms start at 6,100 THB. For New Year they go for 13,700 Thai Baht.

Santhiya is the second most expensive place to stay during the holiday. Rooms at Christmas start at 9,000 THB and for New Year at 15,000 THB

Rasananda wins the most expensive room prize. Xmas is 13,500 THB and New Year is 21,000 THB. Then there are the compulsory buffets to fork out for.

Phuwadee the pink bungalow eyesores have only Christmas vacancies. Prices start at 1,200 THB a night.

If you are a group of 6 or less people and you don't mind a hill walk the best value private villa rental is Sunrise Villa. Just 9,200 Thai Baht a night. That's the same price as Panviman but for 6 people not 2. The luxury villa is still available for both Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Thong Nai Pan Yai

Dreamland has sold out for New Year's Eve but still have some rooms available for Christmas that start at just 700 THB.

The same is the case with Pingchan . Xmas bungalows cost 5,200 THB a night.

Again Pen's Bungalows is not taking New Year's Eve bookings but they are taking bookings for Christmas. An Xmas bungalow will set you back a modest 1,300 Thai Baht a night.

The cheapest Christmas room on Yai is found at Nice Beach Resort. Rooms start at a bargain price of 650 THB.

And that's it. Longtail in Yai has their own booking system. Candlehut is with r24.org. The other accommodation options in Thong Nai Pan Yai are full. Book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Sunrise Villa is the best villa rental option. The villa is in Noi and has 3 bedrooms along with kitchen and lounge. For 2 or 3 couples sharing this is a great option.