Phuket experienced a significant influx of international tourists in the first five months of 2023, with over 6 million arrivals. Although the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket Office describes them as ‘tourists’, the number includes all foreign arrivals for whatever reason.
Among them, Russians constituted the largest number of arrivals, followed by Chinese, Indians, Australians and Kazakhs. Lertchai Wangtrakuldee, the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket Office says that the arrival of these tourists injected at least 196 billion baht into the local economy during this period.
As the annual monsoon season kicks in, the number of international visitors is expected to decline, and has already done so. The Tourism Authority of Thailand forecasts a decrease in tourists from Europe, Scandinavia, and the Americas during this low season.
However, Phuket is anticipated to receive more visitors from short-haul destinations, including India, Middle Eastern countries and Taiwan. Lertchai Wangtrakuldee claimed that there would be an increase in flights from Taiwan and Vietnam to Phuket during this period. At the same time, the number of flights from Russia and India are scheduled to drop.
Phuket has observed a rising number of tourists from Kazakhstan this year due to direct flights offered by airlines such as Air Astana. Lertchai Wangtrakuldee stated that the number of Kazakh tourists increased significantly, surging from 12,000 in the same period last year to over 66,000 so far this year.
To attract more tourists from Kazakhstan in the future, the TAT plans to collaborate with hotels, tour agents, and others in the hospitality sector in Phuket. They intend to hold more roadshows in the Central Asian country to showcase the island’s offerings and allure more visitors.
Phuket aims to welcome 12 million tourists this year (which includes ALL arrivals, including domestic travellers), an increase from the 9.2 million arrivals in the previous year. The TAT’s Phuket Office says they will launch promotional campaigns targeting various demographics, including Thai tourists.
In support of the LGBTQ+ community, the TAT’s Phuket partners and the private sector are organising a Pride Month event at the Central Phuket shopping mall. This initiative aims to promote Phuket as an inclusive and welcoming destination.
During the low season, Phuket will also host several international water sports events, providing additional entertainment and attractions for tourists.
Meanwhile, tragedy struck Phuket’s beaches as two Kazakh tourists lost their lives in separate drowning incidents.
The first incident occurred at Nai Thon Beach, where a 45 year old Kazakh man tragically drowned in the sea before 2 pm on Saturday. Despite the presence of red flags indicating the danger and warning tourists against swimming, the man ventured into the water. Prompt efforts were made to rescue him, and he was swiftly transported to a nearby hospital but doctors were unable to revive him.
Only a few days prior, last Thursday, another Kazakh man aged 24, met a similar fate at Kata Beach in Phuket. As with the previous incident, the beach had visible red flags along the foreshore, clearly indicating the perilous conditions and advising against swimming. Sadly, the young man drowned, marking another tragic loss of life in Phuket’s waters.
It is crucial for all beachgoers and tourists to exercise caution and respect the warnings issued by authorities and beach guards at this time of the year. The beaches along the west coast of Phuket, during the monsoon, can be subject to high waves and treacherous rips.