November 13, 2023
BANGKOK – This year, Trat’s popular Koh Kood island welcomed far fewer foreign tourists, especially Europeans compared to last year.
Last year, both Koh Kood and neighbouring Koh Mak islands saw some 170,000 arrivals. Of them, 100,000 landed in Koh Kood alone, according to Dechatorn Chan-orb, chief of the island’s Tambon Administrative Organisation (TAO) and owner of the Suanya Resort.
This signalled a return to pre-pandemic levels, boosting revenue for both islands.
This year, the number of tourists has dropped by more than half, he said, adding that the decrease can be attributed to geopolitical events like the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a shooting in a Bangkok mall and escalating Israel-Hamas clashes.
It is because of this that the high season, which is popular among European and Russian visitors, is tepid this year.
Hence, Dechatorn said, it is at this point that the government should come up with better strategies to regain visitor interest. He said introducing free visa policies was not enough.
Separately, Nol Suvajanon, TAO chief for Koh Mak, believes the island will see a rise in tourist numbers especially since it has won awards for sustainable global tourism and environmental management.
He said the island’s recognition has driven increased interest, and it can expect a 20% growth this year with more than 100,000 visitors. Future projections also foresee a continual rise, with an expected 10% increase in 2024, potentially generating revenue of up to 400 million baht for local businesses.
Russian entrepreneurs organising events on Koh Mak have also significantly contributed to local income and are set to promote the island as a tourism hotspot in both Russia and Europe.
Despite foreign visitors delaying their travel due to the late arrival of winter, it is anticipated that by yearend and into early 2024, the number of Russian and European travellers will rise.