Tourism businesses in Phuket are not worried about the return of zero-dollar cheap package tours, historically popular among Chinese tourists visiting Thailand, but are more concerned about the expensive air fares and limited direct flights available between Phuket and China’s cities.
Rangsiman Kingkaew, a board member of the Phuket Tourist Association, told Thai PBS that it will take a time for Chinese arrivals in Phuket to reach the numbers seen before the COVID-19 pandemic, due to limited direct flights from China to Phuket and because many tourists have to fly to Bangkok before connecting with flights to the province.
Although China is now allowing its citizens to travel abroad, he said that many Chinese businesses have not yet recovered, including package tour operators, adding that it may take a few years before Chinese tour groups, including zero-dollar, return to visit Thailand.
Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national police chief, meanwhile, also dismissed the return of zero-dollar tour groups in the short term, noting that most Chinese arrivals now are families, groups of friends or single travellers, who have high purchasing power compared to zero-dollar package tourists.
He urged tour operators and all parties concerned, however, to ensure the safety of visiting tourists, reminding them of the competitiveness of the tourism business and competition from other countries.