Following a tourism “roadshow” to mainland China, the Phuket Tourist Association’s Somboon Jirayus said that Shanghai Airlines was set to begin direct flights from Shanghai to Phuket, starting at the end of the month, while China Eastern Airlines was set to begin regular service between Guangzhou and Phuket in May.
The flights were to accommodate increased demand from tourists in both markets, he said.
Unfortunately, recent events in the capital have raised security fears, causing both carriers to delay their launches indefinitely.
Aircraft that had been designated to fly the new Phuket route will now continue their pre-existing flight routes from Shanghai to Bali, Indonesia.
The cancellations represent an estimated loss to the island of at least 20,000 potential tourists who were ready to travel to Phuket, Mr Jirayus was quoted as saying.
In addition, many other Chinese tourists who had booked flights to the island on other carriers have also canceled their reservations citing security fears, he said.
However, Chinese tour operators are are still working hard to restore confidence in travel to Phuket and to develop the inbound market to China. They are confident the tourism outlook will soon return to normal, he said.
Special emphasis is being placed on Shanghai, which, with a population of 22 million, has more residents than many countries in the region, he added.
The Thai Cabinet on Friday resolved to put tourism promotion atop the national agenda to boost the tourism industry after a number of countries issued travel warnings to their citizens following the clashes between anti-government protesters and government security personnel.
The riots resulted in the Thai prime minister’s declaration of a state of emergency in the capital.
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