THAI Smile, a sub-brand of Thai Airways International, will commence direct flights from Phuket to Mumbai and New Delhi, which trade sources say will boost travel to the already popular beaches in the south.
Operating four times a week, Phuket – Mumbai flights begin on March 31 and Phuket – New Delhi on April 1.
Rajesh Sethi, newly-elected president of the Society of Foreign Travel Operators, said: “Phuket has been very popular even though the traveller has to transit in Bangkok. With direct flights, southern Thailand will benefit from a large influx of Indian tourists as they will explore that region more.”
Laguna Phuket’s assistant vice president – destination marketing, Debbie Dionysius, was similarly positive. She said: “The growth of airline services from India is particularly exciting for us as we are engaging holidaymakers in this important market. Laguna Phuket is less than five hours by air from major Indian cities.”
Indian tourist arrivals to Thailand crossed the one-million mark for the first time in 2012.
Elsewhere, Cathay Pacific Airways is considering new flights from Hong Kong to other Indian cities after introducing four-weekly flights to Hyderabad and increasing flight frequency to Chennai. The airline also currently flies to New Delhi and Mumbai, while subsidiary Dragonair flies direct to Kolkata.