The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) welcomed an inaugural flight from Guiyang to Phuket on Tuesday, on the Chinese airline 9 Air. The flight was almost full with 172 people, a good sign for TAT’s goal of drawing five million Chinese tourists to Thailand this year. The airline is carrying tour groups headed to Phuket and Phang Nga.
The airline is launching regular flights to and from Guiyang to Phuket three times a week, with a 180-seat aircraft. The flights will operate every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, Thai media outlet The Journalist Club reported. The company has also organised activities to stimulate and promote marketing with five partner travel agencies, producing tour packages for sale at prices ranging from 4,000 to 8,000 yuan per person.
The director of TAT’s Phuket office, Lertchai Wangtrakuldee, said that the TAT and 9 Air have cooperated in promoting direct flights from Guiyang to Phuket after the recent Covid-19 crisis. The lifting of stringent Covid-related travel restrictions by Beijing on January 8 allowed Chinese tourists to once again visit Thailand.
The return of Chinese travel to Thailand is a positive sign for the short-haul travel market and has significant implications for the economic recovery of Phuket and neighbouring provinces. China is the main tourist destination for students, businessmen, and young tourists who like to travel on their own with high spending power. With Phuket’s unique selling point of tourist attractions, products, services, tourism activities, hotels, seaside accommodations, and famous food, it has been able to attract and impress Chinese tourists with significant growth since the beginning of 2023.
Thailand welcomed 2.14 million international tourists in January. The top three source markets last month were Malaysia with 288,745 tourists, Russia with 202,759 tourists, and South Korea with 169,462 tourists. However, the return of travellers from China, following the removal of Covid restrictions, helped boost the numbers. A total of 91,841 Chinese tourists flocked to Thailand in January.
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