Huge jump in tourist arrivals

PHUKET: The number of visitors arriving at Phuket International Airport in the year to date is up by 27% on the figure for the same period last year, astonishing and delighting tourism bosses.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office had predicted that the number of passengers – foreign and Thai – arriving in Phuket would increase by 10% this year compared with 2003. But instead, arrivals have risen by 27%.

Napasorn Kakai, the Deputy Director of Phuket TAT office, told the Gazette, “For the green [low] season, we successfully focused on tourists from Asia and the Middle East. We arranged roadshows and invited them to travel to Phuket.

“We have many charter flights that come to Phuket from the Middle East because people there want to experience the rain.”

K. Napasorn added that Phuket had become more popular as a “short haul” destination for people in Asia, partly because of terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world.

Visitor numbers could be boosted still further if an Australian Airlines Boeing 767 charter flight between Sydney and Phuket, which is being tested this month, becomes a regular feature of the green season.

However, said K. Napasorn, not all the passengers who arrived at Phuket airport actually spent their vacations on the island – some went direct to other destinations such as Khao Lak or Krabi.

Government figures (which are counted by budget year – October 1 to September 30, rather than TAT figures which are counted by calendar year) show that between October 1 last year and August 31 this year, 4.17 million passengers passed through Phuket International Airport, a rise of 30.41% compared with the same period in the previous 12 months.

The number of flights to and from Phuket during the same period also increased, by 21.89%, to 27,392.

No comparative figures were given on the average tourist’s length of stay and spending habits in Phuket nor, indeed, on how many “quality visitors” were among the arrivals.

Phuket News
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