After Thai tourism officials’ major efforts to attract Saudi tourists to the Kingdom, Phuket’s tourism industry is hoping to bring in more Saudi tourists to the island province. It also hopes to draw more Australian tourists – a staple of the island’s tourism market for 30 years.
The director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Sydney office, Suladda Sarutilavan, said Australia was the second largest market for Phuket at the moment. Last month, Indians were reported to be Phuket’s biggest group of tourists, and have a growing trend since the start of the year and a restart of daily flights out of the major Indian capitals.
The main hurdle for Australians hoping to make their way to the land of smiles is the lack of direct flights. Right now, there are only direct flights from Sydney, and Melbourne to Phuket and Bangkok. Suladda said TAT urged Thai Airways to restart direct flights from Perth, where there is a demand for flights to Phuket. He said there is fierce competition from Bali, Fiji and Vietnam. For the first 18 days of May, 4,951 Australian tourists were reported to have visited Phuket.
Meanwhile, TAT’s director for Dubai and the Middle East office said Thailand might see a a jump in the number of Middle Eastern tourists to the Kingdom from June to August. From May 1-25, 11,994 Saudi tourists arrived in Thailand during the Eid al-Fitr holiday (the end of Ramadan). From June to July, TAT has a joint sales promotion with Wego, a major online travel agency with over 1 million monthly users, and Saudia.
Chaiwat said the Foreign Ministry is working on granting visa exemptions for Saudis. He said that with the visa exemptions, the number of Saudi tourists to Thailand could exceed 200,000 per year.
Phuket tourism officials are crossing their fingers on such promises, with plans to host 2 major tourism events in the coming week. The events are the Thailand Tourism Congress 2022 from June 6-8, and the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2022 from June 8-10.
From Australia, TAT aims to attract digital nomads, millennials, wellness tourists, wedding and honeymoon trips and sports fans.