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December and January were massive tourism months – but still less than 50% of 2019 average

Phi Phi islands boat tour
Phi Phi islands boat tour

Phuket is experiencing a resurgence in tourism, with the number of visitors to the island reaching nearly 50% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Office in Phuket, Nantasiri Ronsiri.

According to the local TAT office, from January to December 2022, Phuket saw 9.26 million visitors, with 53.6% being domestic tourists and 46.4% being international tourists.

Ms. Ronsiri noted that foreign tourists contributed 70% of the entire revenue, while Thai tourists accounted for around 20%. The top 10 countries in terms of the number of arrivals to Phuket over the last year were Russia, India, Australia, England, Singapore, Germany, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, South Korea and the US.

The arrival numbers, published by Phuket Immigration, from November 1, 2022 – January 26, 2023, show the huge ratio of Russian vs other nationalities arriving in Thailand.

1 Russia 249332
2 India 84075
3 UK 45543
4 Australia 44657
5 Kazakhstan 44039
6 Singapore 37575
7 Germany 33783
8 Malaysia 28096
9 USA 22334
10 South Korea 24332
11 Sweeden 20460
12 France 19234
13 Israel 14682
14 China 12659
15 Finland 10999
16 Italy 10301
17 Denmark 9729
18 Hongkong 9053
19 Switzerland 8938
20 Poland 8696
21 Thailand 7211
22 South Africa 6478
23 Uzbekistan 3245
24 Canada 5696
25 vietnam 5459

“It is surprising to see Kazakhstan and America on the list, as a large group of Kazakh tourists generally choose to land and stay in Phuket for a few days before taking a trip to other destinations, such as Bangkok or Samui island.”

“As for Thai tourists, many chose to visit Phuket over the New Year’s Day period, but foreign tourists still outnumbered them. In the middle of January, 2023, Phuket welcomed three flights from China, which mostly carried business people. However, large Chinese tour groups are expected to arrive in Phuket as soon as they receive visas.”

The hotel occupancy rate in Phuket is currently at about 80%, with some places reaching 90-95%.

“But some hotels are not fully open yet, as they lack the funds to restart their operations.”

It is estimated that there are around 30% of Phuket’s hotels and businesses still closed.

Ms. Ronsiri stated that the objective for 2023 is to attract a minimum of 12 million international and domestic tourists to Phuket, while the overall target for Thailand is to welcome 23 million visitors.

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