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Indian tourists filling the gap as Chinese eschew Thailand

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Indian tourists filling the gap as Chinese eschew Thailand | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Vijitt Resort, Rawai, Phuket

Thailand’s currently patchy tourism industry, down but not out, is getting some interim support from visitors from the population colossus to its west, India. The new arrivals are filling in the gap, not quite a gaping hole as yet, of bumper arrivals from China.

At a beachfront hotel on Phuket’s south west coast, the occupancy rate from the Chinese customers has stalled, while bookings from India are on the rise.

Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, Vijitt’s general manager and vice president of the Thai Hotels Association says the trend is cause for optimism.

“We’re starting to see new growth. Indian tourists are now driving industry growth like the Chinese had previously done.”

What’s happening to Thai tourism is being watched closely by other Asian tourism economies as Chinese outbound tourism matures and a new India emerges. The Thai industry had been expanding at an average of about 10% a year on escalating inbound Chinese arrivals, but the 2018 boat accident in Phuket that killed 47 Chinese, plus the variables of a slowing economy and the US-China trade spat, have caused the first drops in tourist growth for many years.

In contrast, Indian arrivals accelerated in recent months due to more direct flights, a visa fee waiver and, most importantly, increasing wealth in the growing middle-class.

The rapid expansion of the middle class among India’s 1.3 billion people has prompted Thai authorities to upgrade their estimates of Indian visitors. At least 10 million are now expected to arrive annually by 2028, a more than five-fold increase on last year’s visits. That sort of growth trajectory would mimic the rise of Chinese tourists, who jumped from 800,000 in 2008 to more than 10 million last year.

Although China will remain an important market, it is likely to offer less growth potential in the years ahead. India, meanwhile, is set to become the new expansion story in Thai tourism, an industry that contributes up to 17% of gross domestic product annually.

Chinese visitors currently make up 28 per cent of total foreign arrivals, well ahead of Indians at 4 per cent. But within a decade, Indian arrivals are forecast to surge to about 15 per cent of the total, while Chinese are predicted to edge up to about 30 per cent.

Chinese arrivals could actually fall this year from 2018 as the yuan has weakened against the baht, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. That might deter more cost-conscious Chinese tourists, or see them spend less if they do make the trip.

India’s fifth-largest airline GoAirlines India currently connects three Indian cities to Phuket, and plans to add seven more. IndiGo launched services to the tropical island late last year.

Thai AirAsia, the kingdom’s largest low-cost carrier, recorded 20% growth in passengers traveling between India and Thailand in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier. It now operates 47 flights a week from Bangkok to nine Indian cities, and said it plans to add an additional destination.

With India projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation in eight years, and its middle class forecast to keep expanding, Thai Hotels Association’s Kongsak is cautious but hopeful about the future.

“We expect the industry will continue to grow. But it’s important to spread the risk and have a good nationality mix in the market. We can’t rely on any single market.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Siraphob Thanthong-Knight, Bloomberg

Indian tourists filling the gap as Chinese eschew Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Crime

43 year old British man arrested over Phuket dog attack

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43 year old British man arrested over Phuket dog attack | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Facebook/Naiharn Beach Dogs

Mervyn Harding, a 43 year old British expat, has ben charged over animal cruelty after he was identified on CCTV attacking a dog with a long rod on Tuesday morning (July 16).

He was charged after attacking the dog in front of a massage shop near Nai Harn Beach around 7am on Tuesday. Police started investigating the case after the video was posted online.

The video shows the man arriving at the scene, taking the rod from his motorbike, then violently beating the dog. The man told police that he had beaten the dog as revenge because it had attacked his dog.

He appeared at the Phuket Provincial Court today Thursday). Bail was refused on request from the police and he is currently detained pending a court hearing. Police estimate it could take up to two months before his case reaches court for a hearing on animal cruelty and trespass charges.

The Thaiger has decided not to share the video of the incident.

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Phuket

UPDATE: Thai PM tells Phuket people to “stop ripping off tourists”

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UPDATE: Thai PM tells Phuket people to “stop ripping off tourists” | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Two Australians file their report with Karon police this morning

Everyone is having their say about a van charging two Australian tourists 3,000 baht for a trip from the Phuket International Airport to Kata, even the Thai PM.

The PM took time out today to issue a warning to “Phuket people” that its reputation as a tourist destination will suffer if local people keep ripping-off tourists.

A spokesperson says the Thai prime minister was made aware of a formal police complaint filed by two Australian tourists that a passenger van driver charged them 3,000 baht (1,500 baht each) for the 47 kilometre ride to their hotel in Kata.

The spokesperson said… “if people persisted in taking unfair advantage of foreign visitors it would have a negative impact on the Thai people and Phuket.”

The costs are well signed as tourists emerge at the airport or they can catch a metered taxi.

The distance from Phuket International Airport to the Kata area is about 47 kilometres, which should usually cost 800-1000 baht, a metered journey could be a little less, depending on the time of day and traffic.

Advertised prices at the airport say the maximum price for a private minibus from the airport to Kata/Karon is 1,600 baht. Other advertised services at the airport say you can catch a min-bus, with other passengers, for 200 baht to Kata/Karon. A taxi from the airport has a rate set at 1,000 baht, 500 baht each for the two Australians.

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Phuket

UPDATE: Search for Filipinos lost off Freedom Beach, Phuket

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UPDATE: Search for Filipinos lost off Freedom Beach, Phuket | The Thaiger

PHOTO: siangtai.com

Officials are still trying to push on with a search for two Filipino tourists who were washed out to sea by waves at Freedom Beach in Phuket last night around 5pm. With nearly 24 hours having passed since the pair’s disappearances grave fears are now held for their survival.

Conditions have been quite rough and squally for most of Thursday. Freedom beach is also bordered with rocky cliffs making searching difficult north or south of the shores of the beach.

12 Filipino tourists were visiting the Beach, between Patong and Karon on the island’s west coast, and were playing in the shallows despite quite strong winds and big waves.

Lifeguards from the nearby Patong Beach and rescuers from the Kusoldham Phuket Rescue Foundation rushed to search for the two but the search had to be called off due to the failing light and the waves up to 2 metres.

Patong Bay Watch volunteers resumed the search this morning in two boats. There has so far been no sighting of the two missing Filipinos.

UPDATE: Search for Filipinos lost off Freedom Beach, Phuket | News by The Thaiger UPDATE: Search for Filipinos lost off Freedom Beach, Phuket | News by The Thaiger

Freedom Beach in much better weather

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