Thailand's idyllic Koh Pha-Ngan island is renowned globally for its marque Full Moon parties. On the heels of soaring demand for the big event, visitor numbers surpassed the one million ceiling two years ago and over a five-year period registered compound annual growth rate of 17 per cent.
While the numbers are impressive, the reality for resorts on the ground is one of disruptive trading. Accommodation establishments are continually being forced to deal with high occupancy that often surpasses 80 per cent in peak periods but rapidly falls off as soon as the Full Moon event tapers off.
According to C9 Hotelworks’ latest Koh Pha-Ngan and Koh Tao Hotel Market Update, the two islands have over 13,000 rooms and supply growth is rising at 10 per cent. As the destination matures, the key challenge is how to diversify its market segments in order to avoid being a one-trick pony.
Commenting on tourism trends to the islands, C9 Hotelworks’ Bill Barnett said "unlike most other Thai resort areas that are being immersed in Asia-centric mass numbers, demand to the two islands in the Gulf of Thailand is focused on long-haul visitors from Europe, Australia and North America.
The main challenge to avoid big event syndrome and a mono market, is the dependence on nearby Koh Samui's private gateway airport which is experiencing challenging conditions due to high airfares and a broader lack of airline diversity servicing the sector. At the end of the day, you can't stay there, if you can't get there."