Sunday, December 08, 2019

More Indian tourists want to visit Phuket but limited airport slots make it impossible

Phuket: For many Indian tourists, the popular resort island of Phuket has recently become more attractive than ever before. Within four to five hours, they can now fly to the ‘Pearl of the Andaman Sea’ directly from India, without a stopover in the capital Bangkok or other countries such as Singapore or Malaysia. 

Since October last year, Indian low-cost air carriers have operated direct flights between Phuket and three major cities - New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The result is a big jump in the number of Indian visitors to the popular Thai province - from about 61,000 in 2017 to more than 236,000 in the first nine months of 2019.
Key players in Thailand’s tourism industry expect the number to keep surging even further as Indian airlines have expressed interest in adding more direct flights between Phuket and other Indian cities. But despite the growing demand, the island’s single-runway airport can only accommodate a limited number of direct flights between India and Phuket.

“The Indian market is growing very fast and direct flights have had a big impact. They make it easy for people to travel. Travellers don’t want a stopover nowadays. But the problem is the limited airport slots in Phuket,” said president of the Phuket Tourism Association Bhummikitti Ruktaengam.

Currently, 33 flights are operated weekly by Indigo and the fourth fastest-growing airline in the world, Go Air.
For local business operators, the limited airport slots pose a looming challenge that could damage a vulnerable economy that has suffered from a recent drop in Chinese tourists, following a boat tragedy that killed 47 Chinese last year.
08/12/19 Pichayada Promchertchoo/Channel News Asia
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