A senior tourism official in Phuket is calling for more affordable flights from Bangkok to the southern island. Bhummikitti Ruktaengam from the Phuket Tourist Association says while international tourists are returning, domestic flights to Phuket are becoming more expensive. This is having a negative impact on domestic tourism, as travelling to the island from Bangkok becomes unaffordable.
Bhummikitti says he understands the airlines are also trying to recover from the devastating financial fallout of the pandemic, but is calling on all sectors to work together. He acknowledges that higher fuel prices are leading airlines to increase fares, but says in order for tourism to recover, all industry sectors need to work in partnership.
Phuket-GO checked some of the airfares currently available. For a one way flight from Bangkok to Phuket next Thursday, November 10 (6 days away), VietJet had flights starting at 1,519 baht, Thai Lion Air had flights for 1,800 baht, Bangkok Airways cheapest flight was 2,110 and Thai Smile’s cheapest fare was 2,660 for one way. Pre-Covid, or even earlier this year, a one way fare could have been as cheap as 800 – 1,000 baht, one way.
According to a Nation Thailand report, Bhummikitti says while small to medium-sized businesses are struggling financially, they also face the challenge of recruiting workers, with many former employees having left Phuket.
However, the tourism boss is hopeful things will start looking up for Phuket soon, with hotel bookings on the increase, particularly in beachside resorts. In addition, the resumption of direct flights from Russia is leading to an uptick in Russian tourists. Prior to the pandemic, the Russians were second only to the Chinese in terms of tourist numbers.
Bhummikitti also expects around 300,000 Indian tourists and 100,000 Australians, along with European tourists and visitors from neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and Mongolia.
SOURCE: Nation Thailand