– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Power was finally restored to the Thai resort islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan early this morning after a three-day blackout prompted thousands of peak-season tourists to leave.
The electricity outage, caused by a rupture in a submarine cable connecting the islands to the southern Thai province of Surat Thani, disrupted businesses throughout the islands.
Most of the islands’ small hotels and bungalows closed, while some big hotels managed to stay open using private generators and candles.The island’s airport, however, remained open, allowing tourists to leave.
Surat Thani Governor Chatpong Chatphut had yesterday declared the islands a disaster zone. Businesses have sustained losses estimated at 10 billion baht (US$322 million), Samui Tourism Association Chairman Thanasak Somwong said.
Sixteen large mobile generators had been moved to Samui as an emergency measure, Thanasak added while expressing concerns about meeting the island’s long-term power needs.
Tourist arrivals on Samui and Phangan have been increasing about 20 per cent per year and last year hit a record of more than 800,000 visitors, officials said.
— Phuket Gazette Editors