Phuket’s evolution as a top destination

With 8.4 million visitors in 2017 alone, Phuket is Thailand’s most popular island destination. Visitors numbers have broken records for the fourth straight year. Over the decades, the island has undergone significant developments before transforming into what it is today.

Phuket's evolution

In the old days, Phuket was an isolated island that served foreign backpackers with only a handful of small resorts. Gradually, the number of tourists grew after the completion of the Sarasin bridge in 1967. In the 1980s, Phuket became more well-known, with key developments such as Amanpuri, the first luxury hotel and villa, which opened in 1987.

Phuket airport first began offering international flights in 1984; this made the island even more popular among tourists. In 1988, when the airport was taken over by Airports of Thailand, Phuket airport served 966,294 passengers. Since then, the airport has expanded tremendously, capitalising on its status as an international airport to continuously increase its capacity and passenger numbers.

Phuket’s evolution as a top destination

Major development on the island began with Laguna Phuket, Asia’s first integrated resort spanning over a thousand acres, on the site of a former tin mine in 1988. CBRE’s first foray in Phuket was as the exclusive agent for Allamanda at Laguna, Phuket’s first major resort condominium development, which was completed in 1993.

After a decade of prosperity, Phuket weathered the 1997 Asian financial crisis, then the devastating tsunami in 2004, which happened the same year CBRE established a permanent office in Phuket.

The island continued to grow — both as a tourist destination and as a place to buy a second home, claiming its position in Forbes magazine’s Top 5 Tourist Destinations in 2005.

Although the island endured another major hit during the 2008 global financial crisis, the number of foreign tourist arrivals doubled from 1 million in 2007 to 2 million in 2010.

The influx of tourists led to plans to expand the Phuket airport in 2014. The first phase of expansion was completed in 2016 and international arrivals reached 8.4 million in 2017, representing an 800% increase from 2007.

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