Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has promised to boost tourism in Phuket and increase its airport’s capacity, anticipating a potential rise in international visitors this coming November’s peak season.
On Friday, Mr. Srettha, accompanied by the Pheu Thai Party’s tourism committee headed by Dr. Prommin Lertsuridej, toured Phuket to connect with its residents and hear suggestions from the private industry on how to bolster the island’s tourism.
Their itinerary also includes a visit to Phangnga on the following day.
At the Phuket airport, Mr. Srettha and his team met with the airport administrators to be briefed about the ongoing airport expansion, aimed at accommodating the rising tourist inflow.
Later, in the Ramada Plaza Chao Fah Phuket Hotel, Mr. Srettha conferred with private sector representatives, discussing strategic plans for Phuket’s growth.
He informed the participants that despite Pheu Thai not securing any House seats in Phuket, he continues to value the island highly and prioritized it as his first visit after his election as prime minister.
“We have to forget about politics but think of the country’s best interests. Pheu Thai does not have a single MP in Phuket.”
“But as we know, economic growth during the second quarter was very low at less than 2% while economies in other countries grew considerably. We need to attach importance to the matter,” Mr Srettha stated.
He further highlighted that the tourism industry would be pivotal in boosting the economy in the upcoming quarter.
“Tourism is the best way to spur growth in the short-term when the economy slows down,” stated prime minister.
“I am here not to give orders but to listen to and gather opinions. The reason I chose to visit Phuket is because I believe tourism will peak in the fourth quarter.”
“We are gathering feedback so the Pheu Thai government will know what actions should be taken.”
“I want everyone to know that the Pheu Thai government is committed to advancing tourism across all areas, including airlines, airports, security, visa exemption, and extended stays, allowing businesses to plan ahead,” conveyed Mr. Srettha.
He emphasized the need for Phuket airport’s expansion, noting that Pheu Thai recognizes the importance of developing additional facilities and transportation infrastructures to back this expansion.
While on his way to Phuket earlier that day, Mr. Srettha expressed his intent to understand the tourism-associated challenges in Phuket, especially related to the airport.
This insight would help his team in creating policies in alignment with the Airports of Thailand’s needs, which oversees Phuket airport among others such as Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Mae Fah Luang in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Hat Yai in Songkhla.
Commenting on the Chinese tourist influx, he observed that despite China’s slowing economy and its restrictive travel advisories, Chinese visitors continue to flock to Thailand.
Before Covid, mainland Chinese tourists made up a significant segment of international visitors to the kingdom, with Phuket being their preferred destination in Thailand.
Monchai Tanode, the Phuket airport director, revealed that the airport’s daily capacity is approximately 40,000 visitors, although it catered to as many as 56,000 during 2019’s peak season.
Concerning a prospective airport in Phangnga, Mr. Srettha shared that he intends to consult the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council, but emphasized that the project is already part of a larger strategic plan.