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New Year holiday draws homegrown tourists to Phuket, Koh Samui

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Syed Ahmad on Unsplash

With the vast majority of foreign holidaymakers still steering clear of Thailand, or simply unable to get a visa at the moment, the country has become almost completely reliant on homegrown tourists. The New Year holiday has brought some slight relief to islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, as visitors from other parts of the country arrived to welcome in a much-anticipated 2021.

Reports from Samui say the local ferry operator had to lay on extra services to meet demand, as cars and visitors queued in both directions before and after the long holiday. There were similar scenes reported at Phuket’s Sarasin Bridge, gateway to the holiday island. Patong has spring back to life, albeit still a shell of its former busy self.

The hotels and other tourism businesses that have managed to survive in places like Phuket and Samui are now completely dependent on domestic trade. The Thai government recently confirmed more public holidays in 2021, as well as an extension to the domestic tourism stimulus campaign, although it remains to be seen how a resurgence in Covid-19 may affect bookings. For the hotels still open on the island of Phuket and other tourist spots, the scheme is a much-needed lifeline.

Despite the return of community transmission, and tough restrictions still in place for foreign arrivals (even when vaccinated), the ever-optimistic Tourism Authority of Thailand recently held a dinner event in the Dusit Thani hotel in Dubai, with local TAT director, Pichaya Saisaengchan, celebrating the reopening of the Kingdom’s borders to visitors from the Middle-East.

“We look forward to starting 2021 on a positive note as we convey to travellers from the region to ‘Get Ready for Amazing Thailand 2021′.”

Just days ago, Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said it would be up to homegrown tourists to rescue the Kingdom’s tourism sector, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the globe and Thailand’s 14 day quarantine requirement remains in place.

The government has added 8 more public holidays in 2021 in the hope of encouraging some additional domestic travel.

National holidays

• Friday, February 12 for the Chinese New Year
• Monday, April 12, adding a day to Songkran holiday from April 13-15
• Tuesday, July 27 for substitution day for Buddhist Lent
• Friday, September 24 to celebrate Mahidol Day which is in remembrance of Prince of Songkhla, Mahidol Adulyadej

Regional holidays

• Friday, March 26 for Wai Phra That (Northern Thailand)
• Monday, May 10 for Bun Bang Fai, known as the Rocket Festival (Northeastern Thailand)
• Wednesday, October 6 for Sart Thai, a festival held on the 10th lunar month (Southern Thailand)
• Thursday, October 21 for the End of Buddhist Lent (Central Thailand)

SOURCE: Trade Arabia | Bangkok Post



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  1. Avatar


    Saturday, January 2, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    So we’re supposed to applaud domestic tourism numbers in an serious outbreak situation where the biggest urban area of the country is imposing restrictions because of a spike in cases?

    This is starting to get ridiculous… It’s time to pull the brakes on interprovincial travel and get the outbreak clusters under control to avoid creating new ones around the country, including Phuket and Samui.

    This Tokyo clusters spreading across Japan through the government’s GoToTravel initiative all over again…

  2. Avatar


    Saturday, January 2, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Having a dinner half way around the world to have a chat about the dire state of tourism….. Hm. Sounds about right.

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, January 2, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Domestic trade? What are they paying? B500 a night with no breakfast, when the ferangs were paying B1500 a night with breakfast. Breakfast top cost B50 They think they are doing well . . .

  4. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 12:18 am

    Wonder how they deal with Thai/falang couples?do they pay thai price,falang price,an average between the two or perhaps charge you a joiners fee for your other half?

  5. Avatar


    Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 2:53 am

    Crazy crazy crazy talk about spread the love (covid)this government seriously is so outa touch, because of this covid will be all over Thailand lockdown is coming in the next 14 days or I’ll eat issan johns straw hat lol

    • Avatar

      Frank Leboeuf

      Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 9:34 am

      Indeed – clearly cutting off the branch they are sitting on… And the majority of readers commenting on pricing… weeee

  6. Avatar


    Friday, January 8, 2021 at 5:26 am

    Now all Schools in Phuket closed for two weeks after the new year local holiday. So nice to us, thank you (muppets).

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A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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