Any discussion on coastal resort and destination development cannot be complete without looking at annual rainfall and typhoon patterns. If you intend your resort to maximize occupancy year round and mitigate potential risk of property damage pay attention to these maps. Ideally you don’t want either of the two monsoon seasons to clash with peak international travel season. Also, let’s not forget that high rainfall comes along with grey skies. It may not rain all the time but grey skies are still not ideal for vacationers.
Above is the Asia snapshot taken from the Asia Pacific Annual Precipitation Map of the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. There’s 50 years of weather data behind this chart. Briefly, the darkest shade of blue represents the highest annual rainfall (above 5000mm per year) and yellow represents least rainfall (below 1000mm per year). The dark blue regions have up to 4 times the annual rainfall of the light blue regions. See full map below for legend.
Conversely, remember that less rainfall also implies limits on water supply. This is where water resource management is an important part of the tourism development equation. See our discussion on Southeast Asia Water Risk and Tourism Development.
You can also view a similar chart from Stock Map Agency here.
Along with rainfall typhoons are another related weather phenomenon that must not be overlooked. The first map below shows the typhoon risk for the Asia coastline. This map is from Prevention Web. The second map below shows actual global typhoon occurrence between 1945 and 2006. What stands out?
Look at peninsula Malaysia’s rainfall pattern. Now you can understand why its east coast is not exactly the best location for coastal tourism development. No typhoons but lots of rain during the northeast monsoon season. This area stretches from coastal Johor in the south all the way to Kelantan in the north. There are several ‘resort’ areas along this stretch with hotels mainly catering to the local market. Nothing of international significance perhaps until the launch of Desaru Coast.
The western coast of peninsula Malaysia gets less rain but unfortunately the coastal waters here is not as attractive as on the east coast.
Malaysian Borneo is wet but less in the areas surrounding Kota Kinabalu where Kinabalu Gold Coast is located.
Ideal weather between Nha Trang to Phan Thiet. Mark Gwyther’s take on Vietnam’s south central coast: “The weather is perfect, the beaches are beautiful, the blueprint for development has been established.”
On the other hand coastal locations north of Nha Trang may not be the most ideal of resort locations especially during the north east monsoon and typhoon season. A quick google search shows many typhoons coming from the Philippines ends up along this stretch of the Vietnamese coast. See below map.
You can subscribe to the October-November 2013 issue of the Vietnam Resort Report which covers natural disasters along Vietnam’s coast in more detail.
Coastal Cambodia receives the most rain compared to the rest of the country in the order of 2500mm per year But appears far less extensive and intense compared to the eastern coast of peninsula Malaysia which receive between 2500mm-5000mm of rainfall per year. See the Cambodian rainfall map here for details.
While the east coast of peninsula Malaysia may have a lot of rain, 500km to the north along the same coastline Koh Samui is one of the places in Thailand with the best weather with between 1500mm-2000mm of rainfall per year.
In fact the entire gulf of Thailand looks ideal for resort and tourism development.
Myanmar may be the next tourism growth area in Asia but there’s much rain along its entire coastline and also a very high typhoon/cyclone risk. Cyclone Nargis may have just missed Ngwe Saung or Chaungtha but its still too close for comfort. The Mergui / Myeik archipelago looks immune to cyclones by comparison.
The Philippines is a complex set of islands weather-wise and should be covered in its own post. Briefly, the eastern fringe gets more rain compared to the islands in the center of the cluster. Palawan looks relatively dry in comparison.
What’s more the Philippines is prone to typhoons with some locations more severe than others. See map below. A Manila Times report even list the Philippines as one of the top three countries for natural disasters. Refer to The Manila Observatory for some excellent weather maps of the entire country.
Philippines Typhoon Incidence
Don’t be lulled into thinking that a low to medium typhoon incidence necessarily implies less typhoon risk. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) slammed into eastern Visayas in what is considered a medium incidence location yet its one of the most powerful typhoons on record.
Philippines Storm (& Earthquake) Map
Some of the best weather is east of central Java and toward the string of islands beyond Bali and Lombok. No typhoons or excessive wet weather. But while the weather may be fantastic for tourism development water supply due diligence is important for any large development. A case in point is Lombok which is one of the water resource hot spots in the entire region.
The more established south western coastline of Sri Lanka looks less than ideal when compared against the northern and eastern coast. The Sri Lankan government has been promoting new tourism development locations and places like Passikudah fall into this category.
Interestingly the eastern coast of India gets the least rain but at the same time has among the highest typhoon risks in the region. Although the western coast gets much more rain its free of typhoons. Can this be one reason why there are no significant coastal destinations on the east? Things could be changing with some states like Andhra Pradesh re-looking at coastal tourism development.
The rainfall patterns around Sanya looking promising and similar to the south central coast of Vietnam. But like Vietnam’s northern coast its also prone to typhoons.
Summary of coastlines with more ideal weather conditions
This is certainly not a comprehensive analysis of the regions weather but I hope you get the point as to how it relates to coastal tourism and resort development.
To conclude here are some coastlines that can be considered more ideal:
- Gulf of Thailand
- Thailand’s western coastline between Phuket and Langkawi
- Vietnam’s south and south central coast
- Sri Lanka
- Philippines southern Philippines and Palawan
- Myanmar’s Mergui archipelago