Phuket eyes B3bn from veggie fest

Phuket eyes B3bn from veggie fest

Tourists also flock back to Songkhla

PHUKET: The annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival that begins Monday is expected to attract more than 3 billion baht in visitor spending this year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Nanthasiri Ronsiri, director of the TAT's Phuket office, said the average occupancy rate for hotel bookings during the nine-day Taoist festival that runs from Sept 26 to Oct 4 is 60-65%, mostly in the downtown Muang district.

The busiest nights are expected to be Sept 30 to Oct 2. Most of the visitors will be Thais, who tend to book rooms at the last minute, Ms Nanthasiri said.

During the festival, 81,429 travellers from 506 international flights operated by 23 airlines are due to visit Phuket. Some 110,165 domestic travellers have booked to arrive on 919 domestic flights by seven airlines during the same period.

They are expected to spend 3.4 billion baht in the province, the TAT's Phuket office director said.

Meanwhile, businessmen in Songkhla's Hat Yai district in southern Thailand said the provincial economy has improved since Malaysian tourists began returning in the wake of the pandemic and Thailand fully reopening its borders.

Last weekend, one parking lot at Songkhla Park in Muang district near Similha beach was filled with over 30 tourist buses from the country, as tourists crowded the beach and its souvenir shops and restaurants for the first time in two years.

One Malaysian guide said Hat Yai has organised a raft of events for Malaysian tourists. Meanwhile, a special train service to the district from Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station that was launched on Sept 16 has reportedly attracted many visitors from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Sittiphong Sittiphatprapha, presi­- dent of the Hat Yai Songkhla Hotels Association, said that most hotels in the province are fully booked for its 10-day Vegetarian Festival from Sept 25 to Oct 4. Around 47,000 tourists are expected to spend 250 million baht during the period.

Somkiat Osotsapha, a former lecturer of economics at Chulalongkorn University, posted on Facebook that he expects Thailand will welcome over 1.5 million tourists a month in the fourth quarter of this year as the kingdom is more affordable than many countries in Southeast Asia.

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