Phuket braces for Songkran spike
10% more tourists expected for break
published : 30 Mar 2023 at 05:21
newspaper section: News
writer: Achadthaya Chuenniran
Phuket expects to see a 10% increase in hotel bookings during the Songkran festival next month.
Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said on Wednesday the government's We Travel Together tourism stimulus campaign has attracted more visitors to Phuket to celebrate the Thai New Year on April 13-15.
He said the island will hold parties and activities for tourists on Kata, Karon, Patong and other popular beaches.
It is expected that over 40% of all domestic tourism will be concentrated in Phuket during Songkran, up from 30% in 2022. Phuket will also welcome more international arrivals next month.
Mr Thaneth said the top three countries of origin for foreign visitors are Russia, China and India, respectively.
Phuket International Airport will resume full operations in May after its taxiway maintenance has been completed, providing more slots for Chinese airlines, he said.
Suksit Suwandittakul, president of the Thai Hotels Association's Southern Chapter, said Phuket has almost 200,000 hotel rooms and the average occupation in April is 60-70%.
However, this will rise by 5-10% during Songkran, according to a survey by Phuket City Development. He said the increase in incoming tourists is a result of the government's We Travel Together tourism campaign.
Meanwhile, Wattanapong Suksai, chief of the Phuket Natural and Environment Office, on Wednesday led local authorities to inspect Mai Ngao Beach, also known as Freedom Beach, which is part of a national forest reserve on Nak Kerd mountain.
The inspection followed a survey led by Lt Gen Santi Sakultanak, director of the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 Office, on Monday. The group found sunbeds and umbrellas being offered for rent by unsanctioned operators on the beach.
Mr Wattanapong said the officers warned local operators not to provide any services on the beach as it is part of a reserved forest. The officers also received complaints that some locals were illegally collecting an entrance fee from foreign tourists who wanted to access the beach. Police will investigate the claim and take legal action against the wrongdoers.
He said 200-300 beachgoers, mostly foreign tourists, visit Mai Ngao beach on average each day, but the number jumps to 400-500 during the high season.