Phuket tourism revs up, 12 million arrivals expected this year


Phuket expects to welcome 12 million domestic and foreign tourists this year, marking an 85% recovery from 14 million visitors in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Thailand.

The Thai Hotels Association Southern Chapter said on Tuesday that China’s move to lift travel restrictions on January 8 will see almost 1 million Chinese tourists visiting the island by mid this year.

“Of the 12 million travellers expected to visit Phuket in 2023, 8 million will be foreigners and 4 million from within the country,” the association’s chairman Sueksit Suwanditthakul said.

He said Phuket is counting on visitors from China, India, Australia and the Middle East during the low season, and in preparation, hotels in the province have started recruiting staff.

“The occupancy rate of hotels in Phuket is expected to be 80% from January to February before declining to 70% in March,” he said.

Sueksit went on to say that Phuket welcomed 8.5 million visitors last year, 4.5 million of whom were foreign arrivals.

He said the hotel occupancy rate on the island from January to November last year was 45%. He added that judging by the occupancy in December, he expects hotels to be 76% full because most foreigners stay in Phuket for at least a week or two.

“In November, Phuket saw a surge in Russian tourists, or 27% of all foreign arrivals, followed by India [11%], Singapore [6%], Australia [5%] and the United Kingdom [5%],” he said.

He added that December saw 6,730 flights land at Phuket International Airport, 3,000 of which were international flights.

“Phuket’s daily average for flights in December was 217 or about 50% of the 450 flights per day average in 2019,” he added.

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