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Cheap flights call to beat Phuket slump

Cheap flights call to beat Phuket slump

BANGKOK: Phuket’s tourism slump could be reversed if tickets on domestic flights are made cheaper and enough direct international flights to the resort island are reinstated, a meeting in Bangkok was told yesterday (Dec 14).

tourismeconomicsCOVID-19Coronavirus
By Bangkok Post

Monday 14 December 2020, 09:47AM


Tourism to Phuket needs a boost, says Governor Narong Woonciew. Image: Post Today

Tourism to Phuket needs a boost, says Governor Narong Woonciew. Image: Post Today

Tourism stagnation in Phuket caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was the subject of a meeting between stakeholders at Thai Airways International (THAI) head office in Bangkok, reports the Bangkok Post.

Top officials and leading executives of the Phuket provincial office, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Department of Consular Affairs (DCA), the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), THAI, and THAI Smile Airways took part.

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew told the meeting a balance must be struck between quarantine restrictions and permitting the economy to move ahead.

Stimulating domestic tourism to offset the loss of revenue from foreign visitors has produced satisfactory results. About 200,000 visitors arrived in Phuket last month, according to the province’s estimate.

Domestic visitors are buoying Phuket’s tourism industry. However, there would have been more tourists if air fares, particularly during weekends, were not so expensive, Governor Narong said.

Mr Narong said airlines should add more flights with the expectation that it could lower the ticket prices.

But for the tourism industry to survive and thrive again, more international visitors are needed. The meeting discussed reinstating direct flights from European countries whose nationals make up the traditional mainstay of long-stay visitors to Phuket.

The air links which should be given priority are those from Frankfurt and Copenhagen to Phuket with onward flights to Bangkok.

Art-Tec Design

TAT Deputy Governor Sirikorn Chiewsamut said travel demand for Phuket remains strong in some international tourist segments despite the 14-day mandatory quarantine regulation.

Although international arrivals are nowhere near the pre-COVID level at the start of the year, a return of direct commercial flights will help revive flagging tourism, the meeting was told.

DCA Deputy Director-General Chaturon Chaiyakam said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has relaxed restrictions in granting tourist visas. Previously, tight restrictions were in place for visa applications sought by people from countries with rampant infections.

Jesada Chandrema, THAI’s Acting Vice-President for Sales, said the airline has taken note of the calls for resumption of direct scheduled flights to Phuket from Europe. He described the proposal as “interesting and possible”.

THAI announced last month it would relaunch scheduled international flights from Jan 1 to March 27. It will operate one flight every Friday to Frankfurt and London, and Sunday flights to Copenhagen and Sydney, in addition to flights to key Asian destinations.

However, the airline has said it will delay resuming domestic flights to Chiang Mai and Phuket from Dec 25 to Jan 1 due to a resurgence of Covid-19 infections in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. No local transmissions have been detected in Phuket during this time.

Even though Phuket has reported no transmissions so far, resuming regular flights there and serving a single destination would not be financially viable, the airline said earlier.

Viset Sontichai, acting Chief Commercials Officer of THAI Smile Airways, said the airline is increasing its daily flights to Phuket by three flights, for a total to eight a day, starting from Thursday (Dec 17).

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Robin Lee | 15 December 2020 - 14:51:45

TAT should recommend to initiate Travel Bubble with Singapore

biggles72 | 15 December 2020 - 13:00:31

I want to go to Phuket from Hong Kong, but the requirement to do 3 months in Thailand, PLUS 14 days hotel quarantine do not make it worth it. Instead, I  will spend my tourist dollars in a country nearby with fewer restrictions. 

drmokie | 15 December 2020 - 00:39:19

Most Thai officials still don’t get it. The 14-day quarantine is the main reason things will NEVER get better for the tourism industry. 2- 3 weeks is the average vacation for foreigners.

goldwing | 14 December 2020 - 13:22:15

Flights are cheaper than taxi fares, get the priories right for goodness sake

Galong | 14 December 2020 - 12:31:35

OK, instead of the standard negative comment, I'd like to commend the authorities for trying to work this out.  Direct flights to Phuket could work out nicely. Let's see it happen, please.

CaptainJack69 | 14 December 2020 - 11:57:50

Flights are already dirt cheap. Both ThaiSmile & AirAsia have at least 6 flights a day to BKK for less than 1,400B. You can just turn up at the airport and get that price on the next flight, none of the reservation games normally played. No, the flights aren't the problem. How about getting from the airport to a hotel? Why can't THAT problem be addressed?

 

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