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Netizens hit out at pricey airfares to Phuket

Phuket netizens pattaya one feb 16 2024

This past week, numerous local travelers expressed frustration over high airfare prices to Phuket on social media. One person mentioned that budget airline fares from Bangkok to the Andaman island increased to around 14,000 baht per trip shortly before their departure date, while others paid 5,000 baht for a one-way trip despite booking weeks in advance.

Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, noted that both airfares and hotel prices in Phuket have been steadily rising since the end of the pandemic. These price hikes are linked to the surge in demand during the current high season, largely driven by foreign tourists.

International travelers seemed unfazed by the high prices, as their trips were usually planned and booked well in advance. Mr. Suksit mentioned that they typically book connecting flights from Bangkok, so they were less affected by the adjusted domestic route prices.

On the flip side, it’s primarily local business travelers and others in need of domestic travel who are impacted by the rising prices. Notably, only about 10% of travelers to Phuket this month have been domestic tourists.

The Chinese New Year festivities contributed to a shift in the market, with more Chinese tourists than Russian tourists traveling to Phuket in February. Meanwhile, January saw a larger number of Russian tourists compared to Chinese tourists visiting the country, with India in third place for inbound tourism.

Mr. Suksit emphasized that the high season in Phuket typically runs from November to March, peaking between December and February. During this time, airfares and room rates often surge due to holiday-related bookings.

However, prices tend to decrease automatically after April, when demand from foreign tourists and locals wanes post the Songkran festival.

The survey revealed that in January alone, tourism in Phuket generated revenue of 64.5 billion baht from around 2 million tourists, combining both domestic and international markets.

Regarding airfares, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has set ceiling prices for the one-way trip from Bangkok to Phuket. Although the tourism sector is monitoring airfares, they have not found any airlines selling tickets above the ceiling price. However, additional fees and taxes might push the final price beyond the regulated rate.

Mr. Thanet Tantipiriyakit, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, emphasized that the high airfare prices are driven by the high season and short lead-times for bookings. He believes that despite the current high fares, prices will gradually decrease following the end of the high season.

Currently, Phuket has reinstated domestic air traffic at a rate close to that of 2019, with approximately 130 flights per day. However, due to the large influx of tourists, these services are not enough to cater to all segments, particularly local businesspeople.

It’s been observed that more local travelers from Phuket are choosing to drive to Krabi or Surat Thani to catch flights from there to Bangkok during the high season, as airfare prices from these provinces are much lower than those departing from Phuket.

In addition to high prices, quality of services and goods in the private sector is a concern in Phuket. Mr. Thanet expressed worries that overcharging and subpar experiences might deter guests from returning to Phuket.

Overall, the report indicates the challenges facing Phuket with regard to high airfares, the impact on different traveler groups, and the concern over the quality of goods and services during peak seasons.


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