BANGKOK, Samui (eTN) — Rain storms and flooding on Samui Island from March 26 to 28 have seriously affected life on the island, with tourists being blocked from landing, as aircraft could not reach the airport. The situation is now back to normal with a clean-up campaign that was organized over the weekend by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)in conjunction with Samui Municipality, the Samui Tourism Promotion Association, the Thai Hotel Association South-East Chapter, and regional carrier Bangkok Airways. The “Big Cleaning Day” showed the commitment of all tourist and government partners to put Samui back on the right track. The one-day campaign on April 24 focused mainly on beaches and roads and involved volunteers, TAT staff, and members of the media.
Beyond this solidarity gesture, for the time being, Samui’s tourism future is far from looking rosy. While Thailand saw total arrivals in 2010 at 12.6%, reaching 15.94 million international travelers, Samui saw international tourist visitors in classified accommodation dropping by 1.8% to 526,244 in 2010 compared to 535,821 in 2009. Many professionals blame high air fares and big hotel prices. Some others point out that Samui tourism development has turned the paradise island into a tourist trap. The recent flooding has further depressed Samui tourism, which saw a decline of 40% in hotel occupancy during the Songkran holiday (Thai New Year).
TAT is consequently stepping up promotion to revive tourism on the island. “Amazing Coasts South” will be a travel fair organized at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center during May 26 to 28, with special offers to boost confidence in the area. TAT is launching a new website www.travelsouththailand.com , which lists routes, locations, and tourism activities in the affected areas, as well as unaffected areas in the south.
Events will also be organized and will include a Motor Caravan (July 2011), which will show that roads remain in good condition from Bangkok to Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat, along with the TAT Golf Challenge 2011 in Surat Thani due to take place in May. Environmental activities will look at ways to better protect the area from flooding. Finally, domestic MICE, media, tour operator, and travel agent fam trips will be organized through June 2011.