Koh Phangan plugs into sustainable tourism

Koh Phangan plugs into sustainable tourism

Objective 100,000 arrivals this year

Foreign revelers enjoy themselves at the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan in Surat Thani on April 16. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI: Koh Phangan aims to promote long-term sustainable tourism to attract more than just Full Moon Party visitors, with a target of 100,000 arrivals this year following the relaxation of travel rules.

The Full Moon Party on April 16, alongside the Songkran holiday, helped the island post its highest occupancy rate since January at 85-90%, but only 70% of Koh Phangan’s 600 hotels are open, said Chantana Limsuwan, President of Koh Phangan Hospitality and Tourism Association.

She said the last holiday saw room rates almost return to pre-pandemic levels.

Before the pandemic, the average room rate during the Full Moon Party was 1,500-2,000 baht per night, while beachfront hotels in Haad Rin cost around 3,000-4,000 baht.

However, this income was only enough to cover payroll and electricity bills, due to higher operational costs.

After the festival ended each month, occupancy dropped to 20-30%, while room rates dropped 30-50%.

Ms Chantana said advance bookings for the upcoming Full Moon Party on May 16 are still unclear as revelers have a shorter booking period, previously at least a month, to 10-15 days now .

Hotels targeting long-term digital nomads now have 15% to 20% advance bookings for the next month.

Ms Chantana said other famous parties, including the Half Moon Party, could resume in August as travel rules are relaxed.

However, the Black Moon Party won’t be back on the schedule anytime soon.

The association has been talking with operators about its plan to create value-added experiences to extend each guest’s length of stay.

Without new activities, tourists usually spend one or a few nights on the island around the time of the Full Moon Party.

Ms Chantana said her tourism model is inspired by Ibiza, which is world famous for its parties, and has similar characteristics to Koh Phangan.

For example, Koh Phangan will offer beach clubs or day lounges, and host more events at Haad Rin Beach with security protocols, like security guards, to improve its services and image.

Moreover, the island is also famous for its holistic wellness retreats and outdoor activities like skimboarding, kitesurfing and sailing.

Its abundant forests are also ideal for trekking and running.

“The Full Moon Party is a key magnet for Koh Phangan, but operators need to raise their standards and prove the island has more to offer all year round,” Ms Chantana said.

She said local tourism operators expected to welcome 100,000 tourists this year, assuming all restrictions were lifted.

Meanwhile, Apichart Chayopas, managing director of Raja Ferry Port, said the number of passengers using the company’s ferries from three piers – Donsak, Samui and Phangan – increased by 95% to an average of 6,500 per day between April 11 and 17. These are the best numbers recorded for Songkran in three years.

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