Phuket is now seeing 3,000-5,000 foreign arrivals a day, or about 40% of the number prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, while the number of local tourists is at about 85% of pre-COVID levels, Mr Pichet said.
Indians dominate the figures with 120,000 visiting the province from May 1 to Sept 21, followed by Australians whose cumulative number over the same period is estimated at 60,000, reports Bangkok Post.
Mr Pichet said the province’s tourism industry is expected to pick up next month when the high season kicks off. A raft of cultural and festive activities will be held to stimulate the sector and support operators, he added.
He said the province is stepping up safety measures to guard against accidents and crime to boost tourist confidence.
"Phuket has witnessed a number of incidents – accidents, crimes and mishaps at tourist spots – and all the parties concerned are taking these issues seriously and are trying their best to address the problem," he said.
Lt Gen Wibul Bangthamai, a police officer at the headof a sub-committee on tourist safety, said the panel is gathering input from the tourism sector on how to ensure visitors are shielded from harm.
The government aims to welcome at least 10mn foreign arrivals this year. Phuket ranks among the country’s top destinations for international arrivals.
Before the pandemic struck it received 14.54mn tourists, local and foreign, and raked in B471bn in tourism revenue in 2018.
Not noted in the Bangkok Post’s report is that Phuket Immigration keeps its own track of people passing through immigration procedures at Phuket International Airport.
According to the most recent Phuket Airport Immigration Daily Report, published earlier today (Sept 24), during the period from May 1 to Sept 23 the airport welcomed 524,784 foreign arrivals.
The top-10 source countries were:
- India – 120,142 arrivals;
- Australia – 52,897;
- Singapore – 46,899;
- Malaysia – 32,625;
- UK – 31,322;
- Germany – 19,359;
- USA – 16,898;
- Russia – 16,381;
- Israel – 14,362;
- Thailand* – 12,836.
China, which used to be the top foreigner market before COVID-19, now ranks 15th with 8,211 arrivals since May 1 to Sept 23.
Since July 1, 2021, when Thailand first began opening for foreign tourists with Phuket Sandbox project, Phuket Immigration recorded only 1mn foreign arrivals passing passport control at Phuket International Airport.
*Thai nationals returning to the country from abroad and passing immigration control at Phuket International Airport.