Koh Samui island, one of the top resort destination in Southeast Asia, is suffering like its counterparts in Thailand of the disaffection of Western travellers, which represents more than half of all arrivals to the island…
In 2018, 6.1 million tourists visited Surat Thani province, of which 2.7 million reached Samui. Of the total, 10% were only Thai nationals while foreign travellers came mostly from Germany, China, Eastern Europe, Australia and Britain. Europe alone generated over 55% of total arrivals. However, this year, Samui is bracing for a strong decline from both China and Europe. Chinese travellers alone are down in a range of 20% to 30% while Europeans are on average down in a range of 10% to 20%. The high rate of the Thai Baht is a major factor in this drop.
According to the Bangkok Post, the average occupancy rate of Samui 27,000 hotel rooms dropped to 45% during the first six months of 2019, down from 65% during the first half year of 2018.
Koh Samui wants to relaunch itself and is publishing a calendar of events for 2020 which is due to make the island a must-go place to visit next year.
BBQ Season @ Banyan Tree
After several months’ closure for renovations, the long-awaited return of Banyan Tree Samui’s fabulous restaurant Sands is upon us. Chef Rainer Roersch promises to roll out a new “8 Fires” concept with everything from flaming woks to wood-fired ovens to fire pits, where he will sizzle up Wagyu beef steaks and fresh seafood while you enjoy sundowners at the resort’s quirky tuk-tuk cocktail bar on the beachfront.
Samui Open Beach Volleyball
Bounce along to North Chaweng Beach on 21- 23 February to catch some 40 to 50 teams from around the world competing in this annual beach volleyball tournament. And when the spikes, digs and blocks are all over and the sun begins to set, expect some carnavalesque party fun at the brand new Seen Beach Club.
Few international events have put Koh Samui on the map like the annual regatta which attracts more than 500 sailors, mostly from around Asia, at this time each year. Hosted in 2020 for the first time by Synergy Samui’s La Vida Resort, the event is the biggest and most competitive sailing race of its kind in Asia. Perch yourself anywhere along the eastern coast of the island from 23- 30 May – preferably with a set of binoculars – and set your sights on some competitive and intricate yacht racing.
A kaleidoscope of parades, culture, music, food and fun for all the family is in store at this 5-6 day event, the dates of which are yet to be officially announced. However, we do know that the Samui Festival Marathon will take place at 5am on Aug. 30, so expect the fun n’ games to begin soon after. Singing competitions, a beauty contest, artwork, handicrafts, Thai boxing bouts and Buddhist ceremonies are all part and parcel of this colorful extravaganza. Perhaps the highlight of the week is the array of street-food stalls where you can sample and savor some of southern Thailand’s most exotic delicacies, such as maret’ leaf rice cooked in a bamboo tube, oysters, fruits, and super-sweet desserts.
Loy Krathong – The Festival of Lights
Thailand’s most exquisite festival is a time when Buddhists float banana boats on the river to take away bad luck and worries, while praying for a better year ahead. And nowhere could be more majestic to join the ceremony than at Chaweng Lake on Koh Samui on the night of 1 November when you make your own krathong, or banana boat, with the help of locals. And of course, there will be music, street stalls, and much merriment all round.
Will these events help reverting the fortune of Samui tourism in 2020? A lower Thai baht would definitely have a more effective impact while new marketing initiatives and renewed creativity to promote the island are a necessity. For to long, Samui seems to just rest on its laurels and take its product offer as granted. 2019 at least can be perceived as a wake-up call for the local travel industry.