Tourism operators demand cheaper flights to Phuket

Phuket tourism operators are demanding that airlines cut ticket prices to make the island destination more financially attractive. As Chinese tourists are largely missing from the Phuket tourism market, operators are worried that travelling to the island is being seen as too expensive. According to The Bangkok Post, Chinese tourists accounted for 40% of the Phuket tourism market before the pandemic. Now, as it struggles to bounce back post-Covid pandemic, local travellers are in focus on boosting Phuket’s economy.

But, local travellers are viewed as not wanting to pay an arm and a leg to travel to the southern destination. Thanet Tantipiriyakit, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, says local tourists accounted for the largest number of airport arrivals, at around 8,000 to 9,000 passengers per day. That figure surpasses the number of foreign travellers by at least 4,000. Thanet cites airline tickets as being the most critical obstacle for domestic travellers to Phuket.

“Phuket had been perceived as an expensive destination among local travellers since before Covid-19. Although room rates and the cost of living remain affordable at the moment as hotels are keeping prices low to attract tourists, the expensive airfares will deter them from visiting the island.”

He went further to say that without advance bookings, a round-trip fare could cost around 10,000 baht per person. He says that the current rate has an impact on tourists travelling as a group, like families, as the price of a visit would be inflated. He noted that despite Thailand’s reopening, the number of flights at the airport sits at around 100 per day, which means the airport still has slots available for airlines to expand their services for the high season.

“With a lot of available slots for domestic carriers, we would like them to increase flights to Phuket, which will consequently help reduce the average airfare if there are more seats filling up this market.”

Thanet said that although the rainy season produced flooding, most of the island’s beaches remained intact, which is a good indicator that more tourists will want to visit.

Phuket – The Thaiger