Phuket welcomed more than 6 million international tourists during the first five months of the year, with Russians the biggest group among them.
According to Lertchai Wangtrakuldee, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s Phuket Office, the largest groups of international arrivals to the resort island from January to last month were Russians followed by Chinese, Indians, Australians and Kazakhs. During the first five months of the year, the 6 million tourists injected at least 196 billion baht in circulated income.
Now the rainy season, also known as the green season, is here, the number of international visitors will decline slightly. The TAT forecast that tourists from Europe, Scandinavia and the Americas will decline during the low season but Phuket will see more tourists from short-haul destinations, including India, the Middle East and Taiwan, he said.
He said there would be more flights from Taiwan and Vietnam to Phuket during the low tourist season.
In addition, Phuket has seen an increasing number of Kazakh tourists as airlines, including Air Astana, are offering direct flights from Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, to Phuket, he said. "The number of Kazakh tourists increased, jumping from 12,0000 in January to April last year to more than 66,000 during the same period this year," he said.
Mr Lertchai said the TAT would join hands with hotels, tour agents and others in the hospitality sector in Phuket to hold roadshows in the Central Asian country to attract more tourists to the island in the future.
This year, Phuket expects to welcome 12 million tourists, up from 9.2 million last year. The TAT Phuket Office will come up with promotional campaigns to attract more tourists to the island, including Thais, Mr Lertchai said.
Lertchai: Potential in Central Asia
The TAT's Phuket office and the private sector will hold a Pride Month event at the Central Phuket shopping mall on Sunday to promote the island as a friendly destination for the LGBTQ+ community.
Phuket will also host several international water sports events during the low season, he said.
Meanwhile, a 24-year-old Kazakh tourist drowned off Kata Beach on Friday. The man, identified as Artur Iskakov, is said to have ignored the safety flags and swam in gusty seas.