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Flights to Phuket Double in Price As Tourism Jumps 80 Percent

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Flights From Bangkok to Phuket Double in Price

Tourism on Thailand’s resort island of Phuket jumped 80% year-on-year from January to October, with nearly 100 billion baht now circulating in the economy, according to the Tourism Authority

Revenue generated by tourism was recorded at 119 billion baht during this period, with the hotel occupancy rate averaging 35%.

Phuket has received 6.2 million visitors in the last ten months, representing a 41% increase in Thai tourists over the same period in 2021.

According to the Phuket Immigration Bureau, 934,164 tourists travelled to the island from May 1 to Nov 27. Some 914,746 were foreign nationals. From Nov 1-27, most visitors came from Russia, India, Australia, the UK and Germany, respectively.

The figures also showed the hotel occupancy rate averaged out at 35% from January to October, meaning nearly 100,000 hotel rooms were booked during this period.

Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, director of the Tourism Authority Office, said yesterday the surge in numbers showed how tourism is steadily recovering from three years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This can be taken as a partial gauge of the country’s improving economy, she added.

Ms Nanthasiri said the shortage of workers in the tourism industry poses a challenge for many operators still reeling from the pandemic.

However, Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, president of the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), believes that high airfares will stymie the recovery’s progress. Several factors, including energy inflation, have weighed on prices.

phuket airfares

Airfares to Phuket Double in Price

A one-way air ticket from Bangkok to Phuket can now cost as much as 6,000–7,000 baht, far higher than in 2019 prior to the pandemic when the highest one-way airfare for this route was 3,000–4,000 baht.

According to Mr Thaneth, most domestic flights are fully booked due to high demand, as airlines struggled to return to pre-Covid levels.

“The air-ticket pricing problem is caused by an imbalance in terms of supply and demand,” Mr Thaneth said.

The PTA plans to submit a petition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Tourism and Sports Ministry, and the Transport Ministry and consult with them about how to bring in more flights.

Phuket International Airport can accommodate up to 480 flights per day. Prior to November, it received about 100 flights per day, but on Monday, the number of arriving flights increased to 200 per day.

Russian tourists Phuket

Russian Tourist Flocking to Phuket

After direct flights from Russia resumed at the end of October, Russian tourists began flocking to Phuket, Thailand’s largest island.

Numbers fell following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Western sanctions reduced travel capacity, but Russian tourists are flocking back to Phuket in droves.

According to the Phuket Express, Russians made up the largest group of tourists in the first ten days of November, accounting for 18,370 of the 75,247 international arrivals.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, told a Thai newspaper that tour operators in Phuket were unprepared for the sudden influx of visitors.

Ikar Airlines operated the first direct flight from Moscow to Thailand since the war began in March. It arrived in Phuket on October 30 and was greeted by airport staff who celebrated the return of Russian tourism.

The Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot resumed direct flights to Thailand, India, and the Maldives on the same day.

Phuket’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism. Prior to the pandemic, the travel industry provided over 300,000 jobs and accounted for roughly 80% of the island’s economy.

Phuket

Russian airlines expanding routes to Thailand

Many of these visitors are Russian, but their numbers have dropped dramatically since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 24,000 Russian tourists visited Phuket in January.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, these numbers fell to between 3,200 and 4,200 per month between May and September.

International flights out of Russia were largely suspended as a result of sanctions, which forced Russian airlines to scramble for supplies.

According to The Business Insider, Russian airlines are rapidly expanding their routes to Thailand now that direct flights have resumed.

Aeroflot will start flying to Phuket from the far-eastern city of Vladivostok, while Siberia Airlines will fly from Irkutsk, a mid-sized city in Siberia.

Thailand has remained neutral in Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine. It has not participated in any bans or sanctions against Russian nationals and makes visas easy to obtain for them.

According to the Business Insider, the country hopes to welcome 1 million Russian tourists by 2022, with numbers expected to peak in the coming winter as Russians flee the cold for tropical beaches.

Insider’s requests for comment were not immediately responded to by Aeroflot, Ikar Airlines, or Thailand’s tourism authority.

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