First charter flight from Mahan, Iran makes its way to Phuket

Iranian tourists arrive in Phuket, photo by Phuket Info Center.

The first charter flight from Mahan, Iran, made its way to Phuket on Monday. Mahan Air flight W557/IRM057 landed at Phuket International Airport at 2.30pm.

As tourism from the Middle East continues to be a major target market for Thailand, the new charter flight network was warmly welcomed. Officials and staff were on hand to greet passengers as they walked out of the aircraft.

According to the Phuket Info Center, the flight carried over 300 people.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan officially began today (March 22), and will last until April 21. Some tourists are coming to Thailand to celebrate the religious and cultural holiday, visiting mosques and Muslim communities, The Phuket Express reported.

Recently, Thai officials have been seeking to promote Muslim-friendly tourism in the kingdom. In a focus discussion last week on Islamic tourism in Phuket, the Department of Tourism (DoT) and private sectors reviewed strategies to attract Muslim visitors.

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The DoT’s Tourist Attractions Development Division Director, Athuek Phrasenmoon, said the global tourism industry recognises Muslim tourists as a fast-growing market with high spending power.

Athuek said Muslim tourists prefer Muslim-friendly destinations, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi. They also look for hotels and restaurants that serve halal food and provide facilities such as prayer rooms, he said.

Thailand is the fourth most popular non-Muslim country among Muslim tourists, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2022. Over 400,000 tourists travelled to Thailand from the Middle East in 2022, according to NNT.

With this in mind, the DoT is looking to develop a plan to attract more Muslim tourists. The department is working to prepare authorities and personnel working in the hospitality and service industries to understand the culture, behaviour, and needs of Muslim tourists.

Tourism is a vital source of employment and a major driver of the economy in Thailand, typically accounting for about 12% of the annual GDP. In January, Thailand welcomed 2.41 million international tourists.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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