Tourism operators in Phuket say they’re not concerned about so-called “zero dollar” package tours, as Chinese visitors return to the island. Instead, they cite expensive airfares and an insufficient number of direct flights from China as being the major challenges to tourism recovery at the moment.
Thai PBS World reports that Phuket businesses expect recovery to be slow, given the limited number of direct flights, and they don’t expect to see pre-pandemic arrival numbers anytime soon, certainly a return of any sort of mass tourism from China is not on the horizon.
Rangsiman Kingkaew from the Phuket Tourist Association says the fact that many passengers have to first land in Bangkok before taking a connecting flight to the island may prove a deterrent, although there are some direct flights to Phuket being introduced.
When asked about the potential return of cheap package tours, Rangsiman says operators are less worried about this. He points out that many package tour operators in China have yet to recover from the financial fallout of Covid-19 and the return of zero-dollar tourism may not happen again for a few years.
His words are echoed by deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn, who says most people arriving from China at the moment are families, single travellers, or groups of friends. Their purchasing power is high and they are likely to spend a lot more than the zero-dollar package tourists of pre-pandemic times.
Surachate has also called on all tour operators and other tourism businesses to protect visiting tourists, pointing out that Thailand is competing with neighbouring countries and must safeguard its reputation and protect its tourism sector.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World