Visitors to Phuket during the Songkran Festival are expected to exceed those of 2019, with numbers 30% higher than before the pandemic, while authorities believe local tourism will generate 4.5 billion baht in revenue.
Lertchai Wangtrakuldee, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office, said on Monday that over 100,000 hotel rooms in Phuket had been booked for Songkran week -- about 85% of room vacancies.
"It is expected that 4.5 billion baht's worth of revenue will be generated during that period. Even though tourists from Europe and the US are returning to their countries, domestic tourists are flocking to Phuket," he said.
He added that the number of visitors during the Thai New Year holiday would exceed the level in 2019 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, incentivised by the government's "We Travel Together" tourism promotion campaign.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is currently conducting the fifth phase of the government's "We Travel Together" domestic tourism promotion campaign. It began in March and runs until the end of April.
The campaign received cabinet approval with a budget of 2.016 billion baht. Under the programme, the government provides subsidies equivalent to 40% of room rates, capped at 3,600 baht per room per night. A total of 560,000 room subsidies are available, each with a 600-baht voucher for travellers to spend on food or services.
Tourists can reserve hotel rooms under this campaign until April 27, while the last day of the promotion ends on April 30.
Despite local tourism having fully recovered, Mr Lertchai said Phuket will strive for high-end tourists to earn greater revenue through their spending. The top-three nationalities visiting Phuket are Russians, Chinese and Indians, respectively, he added.
Mr Lertchai also said that Phuket had prepared water-splashing events in many areas, such as at Phuket's Central Department Store, Limelight Avenue Department Store and its famous beaches.
Meanwhile, in Phangnga, reports claim that the resort town has welcomed an overwhelming number of Thai and foreign tourists who have flocked to the Similan and Surin islands.
During Songkran week, reservations for tour boats, restaurants and hotels have increased. Local entrepreneurs said the number of visitors in Phangnga from February to April surpassed last year.
Many have speculated that Thai tourists have gone to southern beaches to avoid the haze pollution while foreign visitors are coming to Phangnga for its natural attractions.
TAT Phang Nga Office director, Uthit Limsakul, said hotel occupancy in the province is expected to hit 80% during the long holiday, mainly booked by tourists from Germany, Sweden and Israel.
Mr Uthit said visitors from Bangkok and Phuket still select Phangnga as their top destination during Songkran. It is estimated that the average amount spent by a Thai tourist would be 4,700 baht per day while a foreign national would spend 7,500.