Local tourism officials are claiming that “Phuket is on the up”, with a surge in arrivals from China, Russia and Australia, according to a Phuket Express report.
The report quotes a National News Bureau of Thailand story from the Thai government which is high on rhetoric but low, or misleading, in actual facts.
The Vice President of the Phuket Tourist Association claims that unlike pre-pandemic times, most of the current Chinese tourists are free and independent travellers (FITs), with Chinese tour group numbers still relatively low. That, at least, is true for now with Chinese travellers exceeding arrivals from all other countries over the past month.
Thanawat Oncharoen then opined that, while international tourist numbers are only at 70% of pre-pandemic levels, this is still a significant improvement on 2022. Tourist numbers from both India and Australia have already returned to pre-Covid levels.
The island is also being marketed to potential visitors from Kazakhstan and Israel, and a surge in arrivals from the Middle East is expected during the rainy season, as travellers seek to escape the heat of their home countries. Arrivals from Russia have dropped significantly since a peak at the start of this year.
Phuket has around 3,000 hotels, with 200,000 rooms between them and Sueksit Suwannaditsakul from the Southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association says occupancy on the island was around 70% between January and May.
Meanwhile, the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the province has already welcomed over 6 million domestic and international visitors during the first 5 months of the year.
Lertchai Wangtrakuldee, TAT Phuket director, says this has generated a whopping 196 billion baht for the island, which now expects to welcome a total of 12 million tourists this year.
SOURCE: The Phuket Express