The head of the Phuket Tourist Association is optimistic about Thailand’s re-opening to vaccinated tourists from 63 countries, which starts today. Bhummikitti Raktaengam predicts the southern island will see 1 million foreign tourists in the first quarter of next year.
“Bookings in November increased by 20%, while the load factor for some international flights will also rise to 80%, thanks to fewer travel rules for low-risk countries and the winter season.”
According to a Bangkok Post report, Phuket Airport will welcome 825 international flights from 17 airlines this month. Last month, 562 flights from 11 carriers touched down on the southern island. Based on passenger advance information from the soon-to-be-defunct Certificate of Entry system, Phuket hotel occupancy is expected to increase to between 25 and 30% this month. By comparison, the rate was just 18 – 20% last month. It is currently at 35% for the month of December.
During the first quarter of 2019, Phuket welcomed 3 million tourists. Bhummikitti points out that Russia is a significant market for the island but for now, tourism operators will have to rely on other nationalities as Russia is not on the list of 63 countries approved for entry with minimal quarantine. The country is currently experiencing a surge in infections, with widespread vaccine hesitancy exacerbating the problem.
Meanwhile, Bhummikitti says he’s confident about the re-opening to vaccinated tourists, pointing out that just 0.3% of international arrivals tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 4 months. Phuket’s governor, Narong Woonciew, says the island’s public health system is ready for the worst-case scenario, with available hospital beds at 60% and over 50% of the population having received a booster vaccine dose.
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SOURCE: Bangkok Post