Thailand's biggest international real estate provider, CB Richard Ellis, has reported soaring interest in holiday home investment, which it attributes to booming tourism and an increase in flight links.
In Phuket, the firm reports a 32 per cent increase in transactions from the third to last quarter of 2007, with a 59 per cent increase in their value, based on the latest statistics from the Land Department. While villas prices doubled from 2000 to 2006, CBRE said: "Phuket remains globally competitive. Prices and interest remain solid."
Market enthusiasm is attributed to growing tourism, with tourist arrivals to Phuket exceeding 5 million last year, complimented by a robust 22.5 per cent increase in visitors to Thailand. These included many from new tourism sources, such as Russia, the UAE, Switzerland and eastern European countries. “As a result, there is a broader global customer base for high-end villas. Previously, most customers were expatriates from Hong Kong and Singapore. Now we are seeing a rise in demand from NRIs, Russians and Eastern Europeans,” said CBRE.
Airlines have responded to demand, most notably with new connections from regional budget carriers. From Singapore, budget airline Tiger Airways is supporting Silk Air connections. Air Asia has introduced new flights from Kuala Lumpur, and introduces daily flights between Macau and Phuket in May 2008.
Dragon Air is meanwhile upgrading its Phuket-Hong Kong route in peak seasons with larger aircraft and 90 international chartered flights in the last high season from October 2007 to March 2008, which represented a 150 per cent increase from last year. With new flight links, investors are also looking for opportunities beyond Phuket to areas such as Phang Nga, Krabi and outlying islands in the Andaman Sea, said the realtor.