Phuket officials and national tourism officials have yet to mark the news publicly. Airports of Thailand (AoT), which operates Phuket International Airport also has yet to confirm the daily flights. The news was confirmed in a report by the Bangkok Post this morning (Jan 10).
The daily flights will be operated by Juneyao Air, and start next Wednesday (Jan 18)
Suksit Suvunditkul, President of the Thai Hotels Association (Southern Chapter), said the number of direct flights and tourists from China remained relatively small compared to other countries, noted the Bangkok Post report.
Independent travellers booking trips via online platforms are expected to visit the island starting from next month, the report added.
No direct flights from China to Phuket were included in AoT’s flight schedule for January, issued on Jan 3.
News of the first direct flights from China to Phuket follows Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul welcoming 269 passengers landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 12:19pm yesterday (Jan 9).
Joining the welcoming committee were Tourism & Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthsak Supasorn.
The Chinese travellers arrived on Xiamen Airlines flight MF833 from Xiamen, China, becoming the first flight from mainland China to land in Thailand since March 2020.
Throughout yesterday, a total of 15 flights from China, carrying 3,465 passengers in total, arrived in the country.
During the welcoming of the Chinese arrivals yesterday, Anutin declared that the requirement for all international arrivals to be fully vaccinated in order to enter Thailand had been scrapped ‒ with immediate effect.
The policy shift was an absolute reversal of the entry requirements Anutin himself had announced only four days earlier.
Thailand now anticipates more than 300,000 visitors from China in the first quarter of this year. Airports of Thailand expects some 7-10 million travellers from China in total to travel through all its airports, including Phuket, throughout 2023.
The TAT last Friday revised its 2023 foreign tourist arrivals target from 20 million visitors to 25mn.
However, that was before the ‘proof of vaccination’ requirement was scrapped.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, AoT airports in 2019 saw about 20.5mn Chinese tourists arrive in Thailand on board flights.