80% tourism jump gives Phuket boost
10-month period saw 6.2m visitors
PHUKET: Tourism in the island province jumped 80% year-on-year from January to October, with nearly 100 billion baht now circulating in the economy, according to the Tourism Authority Office in Phuket.
Revenue generated by tourism was recorded at 119 billion baht during this period, with the hotel occupancy rate averaging 35%.
Phuket has welcomed 6.2 million visitors in the last 10 months, with a 41% increase in Thai tourists compared to the same period in 2021.
According to Pol Gen Thanet Sukchai, commander of the Phuket Immigration Bureau (IB), 934,164 tourists travelled to the island from May 1 to Nov 27. Some 914,746 were foreign nationals.
From Nov 1-27, most visitors came from Russia, India, Australia, the UK and Germany, respectively.
The figures also showed the hotel occupancy rate averaged out at 35% from January to October, meaning nearly 100,000 hotel rooms were booked during this period.
Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, director of the Tourism Authority Office, said yesterday the surge in numbers showed how tourism is steadily recovering from three years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This can be taken as a partial gauge of the country's improving economy, she added.
Ms Nanthasiri said the shortage of workers in the tourism industry poses a challenge for many operators still reeling from the pandemic.
Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, president of the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), said steep airfares could hinder the recovery moving forward, however. Prices have been hit by several factors, including energy inflation.
A one-way air ticket from Bangkok to Phuket can now cost as much as 6,000–7,000 baht, far higher than in 2019 prior to the pandemic when the highest one-way airfare for this route was 3,000–4,000 baht.
According to Mr Thaneth, most domestic flights are fully booked due to popular demand as airlines struggled to get the number of flights back pre-to Covid levels.
"The air-ticket pricing problem is caused by an imbalance in terms of supply and demand," Mr Thaneth said.
The PTA plans to submit a petition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Tourism and Sports Ministry, and the Transport Ministry and consult with them about how to bring in more flights.
Phuket International Airport can handle 480 flights a day. Before November, it received about 100 flights daily, whereas on Monday, the number of arriving flights shot up to 200 a day.