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Onwards and upwards: Phuket looking forward to strong tourism recovery


Tourism operators in Phuket are feeling confident things are finally on the up, after 2 and a half years in Covid devastation wilderness. During the first 10 months of 2022, the island welcomed over 2.3 million tourists, generating more than 127 billion baht in revenue. A good start but, even now, has a long way to reach the 2019 averages – the last full year of Phuket tourism.

The rise of foreign tourist numbers is expected to continue during 2023, although operators admit it will take more than a year for things to fully return to “normal”. The surge in tourist numbers over the past 2 months has been largely led by Russian visitors, followed by Indians.

Leading the way in Phuket’s tourism recovery was the “Sandbox” re-opening model, launched on July 1, 2021. This allowed foreign tourists to return and helped generate revenue for many business operators on the island, albeit with man Covid restrictions and precautions at the time

Now, the Tourism Authority Office in Phuket says it’s working with the community to continue boosting the local economy. Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri says Phuket is showing signs of a strong recovery and the revival of the island’s tourism will have a positive knock-on effect for neighbouring provinces.

Meanwhile, Kittikorn Kewkacha, chief executive of Carnival Magic, one of the newest attractions on the island, says the pandemic was one of the worst crisis to hit tourism operators, but things are finally looking up.

According to a Bangkok Post report, he also has high hopes for his new venture, expecting it to play an important role in attracting more tourists to the island.

“Carnival Magic is one of the biggest investments in the country, and with no new products introduced in the region, it will become the ‘star’, offering visitors unique experiences, world-class services, and creativity.”

Of concern, if you analyse the numbers, is the relatively low number of current tourists, if you subtract the Russian arrivals. Trends that will become more apparent in the next few months will be if the Russian surge of visitors is sustainable (and any links to the current Russia/Ukraine war), the return of Chinese visitors and the emergence of newer markets.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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