Andaman coast becoming magnet for more markets
Phuket and other Andaman coastal provinces remain popular destinations for European tourists, but are expected to welcome more Chinese and Russian holidaymakers.
“At this year’s World Travel Market, Thai hotels operating in Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga in the South received positive feedback from European markets, especially key sources like Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Germany, as tourists plan for vacations in Thailand in the coming year,” Ittirit Kinglake, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said yesterday.
Key factors for the bright future are better air connectivity and affordable prices of packages compared with other resort magnets in the region.
“Nowadays, Phuket can claim to have the best connectivity. Airlines from the Middle East, Scandinavia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and mainland China are operating direct flights to Phuket,” he said.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry predicts that 5.5 million Chinese will travel to Thailand next year, up from 4 million to 4.5 million forecast for this year.
More Russians are expected to head to the Andaman coast as operators have pushed marketing activities after the political crisis faded out.
Ittirit said that on December 26 there would be a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the tsunami that destroyed beaches along the Andaman Coast and hurt the tourism industry for years.
However, in the disaster areas, tourism has been fully recovered for years and they are even more popular among international travellers.
Phuket City is drawing up a long-term plan including repositioning the island as a quality destination and reinforcing branding and marketing in international markets, he said.
Phuket International Airport is undergoing a big expansion that is set to be completed next year.
Last year, the island welcomed 12 million visitors – half of the 24 million tourist arrivals in the whole country.