Phuket’s tourism is no longer just about beaches and one of the clearest signs is the arrival of new theme park attractions, shopping malls and hotels in and around Phuket town.

In a tourism update Monday, C9 Hotelworks’ managing director, Bill Barnett, identified two notable attractions that are part of the ongoing Central Festival Phuket expansion. They are an Aquaris marine aquarium and the virtual 3D adventure ‘Tribhum’. But there are others that indicate the island’s tourism is expanding beyond beach holiday options.

“One of Central’s key focus points for the mall is to tailor facilities and services for a growing number of tourists such as promotional activities, transport and lounges,” Barnett explained.

Quoting the Bangkok Post, he said Central Pattana Group is already promoting the new extension in mainland China.  It is under construction on a site directly opposite the original Central Festival with a connecting bridge spanning the highway.

There is considerable speculation that the Emporium Group will enter the Phuket shopping malls space, possibly developing a project on a cleared plot of land near Central Festival.

Due to open during Q4 of this year, Central Pattana is also building a mega mall in Patong near the popular JungCeylon complex.

More theme park attractions are taking shape on the island with the upcoming Vana Nava Waterpark under development in Kathu district and due to open in 2021 The Blue Tree waterpark is also nearing completion.

Expansion in the hotel sector continues, according to Barnett who cites the Residences at Sheraton Grand Bay in Ao Po, which is under APEX Plc and should be completed by 2019.

Close to Phuket town on a site next to King Power construction of the 257-room Ramada Plaza Chao Fah Hotel is about 70% complete and is now due to open in 2019 according to reliable hotel sources on the island.

But like so many of the new projects it was due to open this year under the management of Kosmopolitan Hospitality, a company used by Wyndham to outsource management deals.

Some hotel owners are pacing construction as the island’s average room occupancy fell dramatically to around 30% following the fatal boating accident in June involving Chinese tourists.  Delays are commonplace with many projects that were slated for a 2018 opening as owning companies reschedule soft openings to early or mid-2019.

Hoteliers fear the high season will kick-in much later this year possibly in December meaning new projects could plan openings for around the New Year or January.

C9 Hotelworks reported this week that the Mandarin Oriental brand will fly its flag over a new hotel project under construction on Laem Singh. Developed by Grand Larn Luang Company it will have 105 rooms including 37 pool villas and should open in 2022.

Park Inn by Radisson will brand a hotel in Phuket Town currently under construction and due to open in the first quarter of 2020.

The three-story Park Inn by Radisson Phuket Town is just one component of a mixed-use development featuring shops and dining outlets.

The complex including the hotel is located on a site adjacent to Highway 402, Phuket’s main north-south highway.

Park Inn by Radisson Phuket Town will feature at least 130 rooms with a restaurant and a fitness centre. Multi Property Development Company, led by managing director, Chairat Mepremwattana, owns the Phuket town property.

Nearby shopping malls include Central Festival Phuket, King Power Duty Free Store and Blu Pearl, the Mall Group’s lifestyle development, which features multiple retail outlets, a waterpark, convention centre and theatre.

Local hotel operator, Kata Group Resorts, started construction on its eighth resort hotel this week at a site on Kata beach on the west coast of Phuket island.

The hotel group’s president, Pramookpisitht Acharayachai, confirmed at the ground breaking ceremony, last week, the group’s latest resort would be branded ‘Pamooka’ and should be fully opened in late 2019.

It will feature a waterpark and 512 rooms and suites, conference and function rooms with a capacity to handle 1,100 guests.

Kata Group Resorts currently owns seven resorts in South Thailand, of which it operates six. There are five Beyond branded properties, at Kata, Karon, Patong, Krabi and Khao Lak. Phuket Orchid Resort & Spa is located at Karon, while the Novotel Samui Resort Chaweng Beach Kandaburi is located at Samui.

According to C9 Hotelworks the following hotels are due to open in the last quarter of this this year or early 2019:

  • The Nature Kalim Kalim a 300-room resort hotel, due to open Q4 2018.
  • Twinpalms Residences MontAzure Kamala with 75 rooms, due to open Q4 2018.
  • Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong with 180 rooms, due to open Q4 2018.
  • Ramada Plaza Chao Fah with 257 rooms is now looking at an early 2019 opening.
  • Oceanfront Kalim Kalim with 200 rooms, due to open Q1 2019.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Phuket Chalong Bay, with 277 rooms, due to open Q1 2019.
  • JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa Chalong Bay with 189 rooms due to open Q1 2019.
  • MGallery by Sofitel Patong with 231 rooms, due to open Q1 2019.

Phuket currently has 24,427 rooms with another 1,369 rooms due to open this year and another 8,281 rooms in the development pipeline.

(Source: C9 Hotelworks plus additional reporting). This article appeared on TTR Weekly.