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Qatar Airways flight a boon for Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Qatar Airways flight a boon for Phuket | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: A new daily flight connecting Doha and Phuket is set to benefit the island in a number of ways, including improving travel options among European tourists wishing to holiday in the Andaman region.

The first Qatar Airways flight from Doha, with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur, landed in Phuket on October 12.

Phuket is one of nine new destinations added in the past year by the carrier, with hopes to add another 120 destinations in the next three years as part of its aggressive expansion strategy.

“Our growth strategy is to become a global network operator,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

“In a radius of only five hours flight time from Doha, there is a population of over three billion people, and this is what we will tap.

“Doha will serve as an excellent gateway for you, connecting Phuket to key cities around the world.” he added.

According to Mr Al Baker, the increased accessibility of Phuket to the rest of the world will help boost tourism, particularly since Doha’s central location makes it an ideal hub.

Popular connections for the Doha – Phuket route include Western European cities such as London, Stockholm, Berlin, Moscow as well as cities in North and South America.

Qatar Airways decided to add a direct Phuket route following the success of its Bangkok – Phuket service, Mr Al Baker.

The carrier hopes the new service will increase its inbound passenger load to Phuket from 200,000 last year to 300,000 this year.

“Phuket is a favorite destination from the Middle East and from passengers that fly with us from Europe,” Mr Al Baker said.

Suvat Chirapant, the Thai Ambassador to Qatar, said Middle Eastern tourists look to holiday destinations in Asia during the harsh summer months there.

“Previously Florida was the top choice, but after 9/11 it has been harder for them to get visas and they don’t feel as comfortable going,” he said.

Medical tourism is also another sector of the local economy that is set to benefit, Mr Al Baker said.

Thailand is already the number-one destination in the world for this niche market [among Middle Easterners], said Mr Al Bakar.

He has been working with Mr Suvat to promote it further, he said.

The first ever medical tourism roadshow in the Middle East was held in Doha last month.

The new direct route will give Phuket a competitive edge over other medical tourism destinations in Asia, including Singapore and Korea.

“Medical services in Qatar are expensive and there is a certain lack of expertise, so medical tourism is a selling point for Middle Eastern tourists,” Mr Suvat said.

When asked whether the route will be popular with Thais wanting to holiday in Qatar, the ambassador was skeptical.

He cited the harsh climate and lack of natural attractions in Qatar as an obstacle.

“It is more of a business or MICE [meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions] destination, rather than for leisure and recreational tourism,” he said.

Initial booking rates indicate demand for the service is strong, Mr Al Baker said.

In response to comments about layover times of up to eight hours for passengers transferring from European flights, Mr Al Baker said:

“We do realize this is an issue on many connecting flights, but as with everything we cannot satisfy every passenger. But it is for this very reason that we have increased the frequency of our flights to Bangkok, giving you another convenient option,” he said.

The Kuala Lumpur stopover that is currently part of the Doha – Phuket route will be eliminated as soon as more aircraft are available, he said.

“When this happens I am sure there will be massive improvements in the connections between European capitals and Phuket,” he added.

— Alexandra Andersson

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Phuket

Phuket tops travel destination list of cheapest hotel prices – Dertour 2020 Price Index

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket tops travel destination list of cheapest hotel prices – Dertour 2020 Price Index | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Phuket Hotels Association

Phuket tops a list of the cheapest travel destinations with a 1 night stay at a hotel costing on average less than $30 USD, according to a study by the German travel company Dertour. Phuket is going through what some say is a “crisis”, certainly a current tourist vacuum. The island province largely relies on income from foreign tourists, but with travel bans over the last 7 months, hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry have been at a loss.

For domestic tourists, Phuket currently offers a serene, peaceful tropical stay where you’ll have a lot of the island to yourself. There are plenty of daily flights to the island, but all from domestic locations at this stage – the international terminal remains closed.

Along with being listed as hotels with the lowest price, Phuket also made the top 5 cities with the largest price drop from 2019 to 2020, according to Dertour’s 2020 Accommodation Price Index. The company studied hotel prices for 75 popular tourist destinations around the world. Bangkok was just above Phuket at the fourth city with the largest hotel price drop. Bangkok hotel prices dropped by 34.6% while Phuket’s hotel prices dropped by 33.8%.

Prices will continue to be low, CEO DER Touristik Central Europe Ingo Burmester says…

“Travel itself will be cheap in 2021… Although it has been a challenging period, we have seen a great deal of interest in domestic travel. We also predict a major catch-up effect for Mediterranean destinations, European trips and long-haul routes in 2021 as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.”

Phuket ranks as the destination with the cheapest accommodation prices at an average price of $29 USD, according to the list. Average prices for 3-star hotels are $26 USD and an average of $54 USD for 5-star hotels.

Bangkok followed, ranking fifth on the list of cities with the lowest hotel price at an average of $43 USD per night. 3-star hotels in Bangkok average at $30 per night and 5-star hotels average at $93 USD.

Top 5 destinations with the lowest price in accommodation

  1. Phuket: Average of $29 USD per night
  2. Delhi: Average of $34 USD per night
  3. Kuala Lumpur: Average of $36 USD per night
  4. Bali: Average of $36 USD per night
  5. Bangkok: Average of $43 USD per night

Top 5 destinations with the largest price drop in accommodation

  1. Amsterdam: Dropped by 51.6%
  2. San Francisco: Dropped by 39.2%
  3. Vancouver: Dropped by 37.1%
  4. Bangkok: Dropped by 34.6%
  5. Phuket: Dropped by 33.8%

To read Dertour’s full report, click HERE.

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Phuket

Man arrested after allegedly slicing a man’s face with sickle

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested after allegedly slicing a man’s face with sickle | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

A man was arrested on charges of grievous bodily harm after he allegedly sliced his friend’s face with a sickle, causing a gash about 25 centimetres long.

3 men, identified as Saeng, Ta and Rop, had been drinking at a shanty in Phuket’s Rassada district where Rop lived. An argument broke out over money. A bank transfer was apparently made, but no one received any money, according to Rop as he related the story to police.

The men didn’t come to an agreement and ended up going to bed. Ta stayed awake and slapped Saeng twice while he was falling asleep, Rop says. Saeng then got up, grabbed the sickle and swung the hooked blade across Ta’s cheek, Rop says.

Reports don’t go into detail about Ta’s condition, but photos of the scene by the Phuket News show a significant amount of blood on the concrete floor.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

PM to visit Phuket on Monday as island’s economy lies in tatters

Maya Taylor

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PM to visit Phuket on Monday as island’s economy lies in tatters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Phuket People's Voice

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is to arrive in Phuket on Monday, where he will meet with local business leaders and discuss proposals for reviving the southern island’s devastated tourism sector. It’s understood a representative of Phuket’s Old Town area is to put forward an idea for promoting the historic centre as a tourist destination.

Since borders were closed in late March, in an effort to protect the country from the Covid-19 pandemic, Phuket’s tourist revenue has plummeted to practically zero, with countless businesses shuttered and thousands of jobs lost.

In addition to hearing suggestions from local operators on how to revive tourism on the island, the PM will also listen to requests for additional help from central government. The much-discussed Phuket Model never materialised, despite being seen at one point as the pilot project on which a wider re-opening of borders would be based.

While hotel occupancy in the province has increased from a pitiful 13.4% in June, September’s rates were still woefully low, at just 30%. This is despite a stimulus package introduced by the government in an effort to boost domestic tourism.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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