Phuket flight services picking up
PHUKET: In moves that appear to signal a revival of tourist confidence in Phuket, several airlines have begun boosting their regional services to Phuket or have announced plans to do so soon.
Orient Thai resumed its daily Phuket-Hong Kong-Phuket service on July 15, and has announced that it will operate chartered flights between Phuket and the South Korean cities of Inchon and Busan every Thursday and Sunday, from October 2 to December 5.
Dragonair, which only recently canceled its direct Phuket-Hong Kong service and closed its office in Phuket, has inked a deal with six Hong Kong travel agencies to fly charters from Hong Kong. The first is due tomorrow (July 23), with the others being on July 26 and 30, and on August 2, 6 and 9.
Thai Airways International has annouced that it will operate an extra two flights a week between Phuket and Inchon from August 10, while China’s Xiamen Airlines will launch a charter service to Phuket from August 18.
Suwalai Pinpradab, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in Phuket, said, “It is a good sign for Phuket’s tourism. Dragonair will launch its chartered service first. If that is successful, it will probably resume regular flights in the near future.”
She described occupancy rates in Phuket hotels for the remainder of July and for August as “satisfactory”. However, she added that the TAT needed to push for more Thai tourists to come to Phuket in September and October.
K. Suwalai also noted that bookings from Europe for November and December are currently down by 40%-50% compared with the same period last year.
However, she added, “We are nearly 100% booked for December 26 to 30 by people who will take part in events commemorating the tsunami in Phuket.”
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