Tourists “will return in October’

PHUKET CITY: Panu Maswongsa, Vice-President of Marketing of the Phuket Tourism Association, has said that he expects the number of tourists visiting Phuket to return to normal by October, when European tourists start to come back in larger numbers.

“The number of tourists [to Phuket] will not increase in the immediate future because we are now entering the low season, but we expect tourists to come back to Phuket at the end of October as we enter the next high season,” he said.

K. Panu made his prediction after returning from the recent International Tourism Borse (ITB) exhibition in Berlin, considered one of the most important marketing platforms for Phuket’s tourism industry.

“In light of the positive feedback I received at the ITB, I believe that European tourists will return to Phuket next high season,” he said.

“We explained and helped tourists and tour agents to understand what the current state of Phuket truly is. We told them the truth so that they would have a different perception from that given by the media.”

K. Panu said that tourists were primarily concerned about Phuket having a tsunami warning system installed and about the emergency services available on the island, but noted that German airline LTU had promised to increase its service to Phuket from three flights a week to five a week in September.

“After the tsunami, the occupancy rate of Phuket’s hotels fell to 5-10% in January and February. Now, in March, the rate has risen to 40-45%.

“We will soon be in the low season, when our major markets are Singapore, China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Australia. Not only should we encourage European tourists to come, but also we should ensure the Asian markets send tourists this low season, too.”

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