Phuket eyes 1m arrivals in Q4

Phuket eyes 1m arrivals in Q4

Russian tourists relax on a beach in Phuket on March 12, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)
Russian tourists relax on a beach in Phuket on March 12, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

Phuket aims to attract 1 million foreign tourist arrivals in the fourth quarter and 3.5 million in total this year as operators on the island see positive signs from the recent easing of travel restrictions.

Bhummikitti Raktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said international arrivals have increased to 3,000-5,000 per day since May 1, compared with 400-500 per day during the sandbox period and 2,500 per day under the "Test & Go" scheme.

Some 328,004 travellers visited Phuket in the first four months of this year.

Mr Bhummikitti said India is one potential market as it contributed the most inbound foreign tourists this month, with an average of 1,000 per day thanks to direct flights to Phuket.

The second largest group of foreign inbound tourists were from Australia, with around 10,000 visiting Phuket in April. This is expected to increase to 15,000 arrivals per month.

Other leading markets for Phuket were the United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

The occupancy rate for hotels in prime locations such as Patong, which are popular with Indian and Australian tourists, is estimated to reach 60-70% this month, he said.

The association predicts the number of tourists flying direct to the island will stay at 9,000 to 10,000 per day between October and December, assuming there are no further disruptions.

"The viral situation should no longer be cause for huge concern, but other economic indicators during the final quarter should be taken into account, including inflation, the exchange rate and oil prices, which affect both the supply and demand sides," Mr Bhummikitti said.

Greater accessibility from direct flights to Phuket is also key to helping boost arrivals, he said.

Tourism operators will have to wait and see on whether more direct flight slots are granted to Phuket, said Mr Bhummikitti.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic outbreak, Phuket received 10 million international tourists, of which 3 million came from China.

He said the island can potentially draw 3.5 million foreign tourists this year.

The average length of stay for each tourist is four to five days, however, this number could increase to six days if the island offers more recreational activities and attractions, said Mr Bhummikitti.

He said instead of prioritising volume, the island should use activities and new tourism sites to attract high spenders in order to shore up the economy.

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