In a message issued via the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department yesterday (Dec 18), Ms Kanokkittika admitted that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Phuket so far this month has dropped by 2.63% compared with the same period last year, but also pointed out that the fall in Chinese arrivals had been offset by a 3.63% increase in the number of arrivals from other source markets.
“I cannot agree that the number of tourists in Phuket has fallen,” she said. “I know the number of Chinese tourists has dropped, as confirmed by Phuket Immigration. They have recorded 130,221 Chinese-national arrivals (at Phuket International Airport) from Dec 1-15.
“That is a decrease of 3,516 people compared with the same period last year, but that has not caused a huge fall in the number of tourists.
“There have also been 355,429 arrivals of other nationalities (during the same period), which is an increase of 3.63%,” she added.
Ms Kanokkittika noted that room bookings from group tours in Phuket had seen a fall of 5% due to cancellations, and a corresponding fall of 5% (down to about 3,000 a day) in the number of tourists boarding tour boats at Rassada Pier, the main departure point for tours to the islands in Phang Nga Bay, including Phi Phi Island.
However, she added, “We have certainly found that we have more FITs (free, independent travellers) travelling here. Hotel occupancy right now across all nationalities 71.77%, which is a 0.1% increase on last year.”
According to figures cited by Ms Kanokkittika, 14.75% of tourists to Phuket during the first two weeks of December were Thai, with the remaining 85.25% comprising foreigners.
“The average spending was B8,2110.80 per person per day, generating an estimated B40.39 billion per day. Hotel occupancy in beach areas is 84.78%,” she said.