PHUKET TOWN: The Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) is to launch a new campaign targeting travelers from the Middle East as a way to improve low-season tourism figures. Panu Massirat, a member of the PTA’s marketing committee, explained that two groups of Middle East tourists – high income and middle income – would be targeted. Both groups have the potential, he said, to spend about 3,000 baht per day per person. He said that the most obvious aspect of Middle East tourists’ spending behavior was that they liked food, particularly sea food. This, he said, was because their countries “do not have a sea”. Phuket could also offer them attractions such as souvenirs and department stores selling brand-name goods. The PTA and the Tourism Authority of Thailand will promote Phuket by staging “showcases” of the island’s attractions in Middle Eastern countries, though details of what will be showcased, and in which countries, have yet to be settled. He admitted that there had been some problems with hotels refusing to accept Middle Eastern tourists in the past because of such practices as burning incense or cooking food in their rooms. But these problems had been alleviated, he said, because the tourists now understood the objections, and because many of the hotels now have halal food, prepared in a way that is acceptable to Muslims. Between 300 and 400 Middle Eastern tourists have visited Phuket since the beginning of the year. Khun Panu expects the new initiative to increase that number “several times”.
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