The first direct flights from mainland China touched down in Phuket on Wednesday, with more direct services expected to be introduced soon. China finally opened its borders on January 8, lifting nearly 3 years of some of the world’s toughest travel restrictions. The return of larger numbers of Chinese tourists will be an important addition to the current tourism mix which has been dominated by arrivals from one country since October last year.
On Wednesday, Phuket welcomed the return of the Chinese as 2 direct flights from Shanghai, operated by Spring Airlines and Juneyao Air, arrived at the island’s airport. Yesterday, even more Chinese arrivals as 3 China Airlines flights arrived via Bangkok and today, the island will welcome flights from China Eastern and Sichuan Airlines.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, China was by far Thailand’s largest overseas tourism market by volume. A total of 17,695,489 Chinese people visited Thailand in 2019, with 3,118,901 of them coming to Phuket.
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, is forecasting around 300,000 Chinese tourists for Thailand in the first quarter of the year, with 17% of them visiting Phuket. That’s a long way down from pre-2020 numbers but at least it’s a start of a resumption of tourism out of the Chinese mainland.
Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, director of the TAT’s Phuket office, says the island is ready to welcome them.
“Phuket is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese people to travel to, and we are ready in terms of the number of rooms, variety of tourism products and services, department stores and spas, which all meet the needs of Chinese tourists.”
Meanwhile, Airports of Thailand, which runs ground services at Phuket Airport, says the facility is ready to ramp up services to manage the increase in arrivals, with more direct flights from China expected to be added in the near future.
SOURCE: The Phuket News