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Japanese tourists cancel trips to Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: More than half of the Japanese tourists who planned to visit Phuket over the next week have canceled their bookings due to concerns over political unrest in Thailand.

Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) President Somboon Chirayus yesterday told the Gazette that despite the reopening of Phuket International Airport on Sunday, there have been many cancellations among foreign tour groups.

Cancellation rates among Japanese visitors are the highest, at about 50%, he said.

Mr Somboon, deputy managing director of Merlin Phuket Hotels and Resorts, said the direct flight from Narita to Phuket was now operating at half-capacity.

These flights had been nearly full every day before the recent increase in tensions in the capital and closure of Phuket Airport by protesters over the weekend, he said.

I think we will need more time to make tourists understand that the situation [in Phuket] is back to normal,” he said.

It is still too early to judge the effect of the airport closure on Phuket’s tourism picture in the long-term, but the distress and inconvenience suffered by passengers who were unable to catch their return flights is bound to leave a bad impression, he said.

Embassies around the world are closely watching the situation here and the issuance of travel advisories warning against travel to Thailand would have a negative impact, he said.

Methee Tanmanatragul, President of Thai Hotels Association Southern Chapter, earlier told the Gazette that the airport closures by anti-government protesters cost Phuket more than 250 million baht a day in tourism revenue, and about 400 million baht per day was lost in the Southern region as a whole.

 

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