Phuket eyes short-haul markets

Phuket eyes short-haul markets

Locals and tourists watch a sunset from Phuket's Phromthep Cape on April 9, 2022. (Reuters photo)
Locals and tourists watch a sunset from Phuket's Phromthep Cape on April 9, 2022. (Reuters photo)

The Phuket Tourist Association is targeting tourists from Asia to attract more visitors to the island during the current low season.

Thanet Tantipiriyakit, chairman of the Phuket Tourism Council, said Phuket's tourism industry has grown by just 10% since 2019.

"Only 3,000 foreign tourists are arriving in Phuket each day on average, which is a small number compared to what we saw in 2019. Many people are avoiding travel due to issues including the conflict in eastern Europe. We need to target different groups," he said.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Phuket Tourism Council are planning to promote Thailand as a tourist destination in short-haul markets including India, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, in a bid to increase growth by another 10%.

Mr Thanet said marketing campaigns used in Australia and Dubai were a success but much work remains.

"The hotel occupancy rate in Phuket is 60-70% with 50,000-70,000 rooms still empty. Every hotel in Phuket could resume their business by the end of this year with just a little improvement," he said.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Covid-19, rising oil prices and runaway inflation are stymieing tourism, he said.

"Phuket has earned about 60 billion baht in revenue since the government endorsed the Phuket Sandbox scheme. Still, we used to generate in excess of 470 billion baht a year before Covid-19," he added.

Pisut Saeku, president of the Thai Hotels Association's eastern chapter, said Thailand should soon see more tourists as the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will axe the Thailand Pass scheme for Thais on June 1, and reduce the information requirements for foreigners.

Mr Pisut predicted the kingdom would see a 50% rise in tourists at the end of the year in the next peak season, mainly from India and Vietnam.

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