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Tourism steady despite economic woes

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Tourism steady despite economic woes | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: Despite global economic problems, tourism in Phuket continues to grow, with 4.79 million tourists having passed through Phuket International Airport since the beginning of the fiscal 2008, up 600,000 from the same period a year earlier.

Anoma Thongyai, deputy director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) South Region 4 Office in Phuket, revealed the figures at the monthly Governor Meets the Press conference held on August 15.

Although fuel prices are still high and tourism destinations around the world have felt the strain of a volatile global economy, occupancy rates in Phuket’s hotels remain at between 40% and 55%, about average for low season on the island, Khun Anoma added.

One area of change lies in the spending habits of tourists, who after shelling out for costly air tickets are more careful about spending and less likely to buy extravagant items on impulse, she said.

Tourists visiting Phuket this low season are come mostly from Australia, the Middle East, India, Hong Kong, China, Korea and Japan. The number of Japanese visitors is increasing, partially in response to the reopening of the direct Narita-Phuket route in July, which has seen load factors averaging about 90%.

There are also eight charter flights operating between Hong Kong and Phuket.

While the number of foreign visitors has remained steady, fewer Thais have been visiting, said K. Anoma.

She cited the reduction in domestic flights available from carriers low-cost Nok Air and One-Two-Go as a major factor.

PIA Director Wg Cmdr Wicha Nernlop said that after One-Two-Go and Nok Air ceased operating flights from Phuket, some100 tourists a day were left waiting for standby seats on flights out of PIA, leading to cramped conditions in the airport’s waiting area.

THAI Airways is expected to announce the addition of several more flights between Bangkok and Phuket, he said.

However, a member of THAI Airways reservations department today told the Gazette that the only impending increase in carrying capacity would come on September 1, when flight TG 1221 from Don Meuang to Phuket, and its return leg, would resume service.

The flights were suspended starting March 30 for the low season, she said.

There are no new flights planned, but THAI might add special, non-scheduled flights to help meet passenger demand during peak periods, she added.


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