Thailand’s idyllic beach resort of Phuket got a further accessibility boost as of October 12, 2010 when Qatar Airways became the first Middle Eastern airline to launch direct flights from its hub in Doha. (see http://phuketnews.phuketindex.com/business/qatar-airways-181093.html)
The six weekly flights, using a 272-seat Airbus 330, makes the southern Thailand resort Qatar Airways’ second destination in Thailand after Bangkok. At the same time, Qatar Airways will increase its flights between Doha and Bangkok from 2 flights to 3 flights per day as of November 1, 2010.
Mr Pramoth Supyen, Director of TAT Dubai Office said “The Middle East in general and GCC countries in particular, are very important sources of visitor arrivals for us in Thailand, and we are very grateful to all the airlines, tour operators, and others in the Middle East travel and tourism industry who support us all the time.”
In January – August 2010, the number of Middle Eastern visitor arrivals to Thailand was up 25% over the same period of 2009.
In 2009, Middle Eastern visitors travelling to Thailand totalled 450,000 with an average length of stay of 9 days. Most of them travelled with family (8-15 people) with average daily expenditure per person 5,000 Baht. They also enjoy shopping, entertainment, visiting beach resorts, and some of them travel for medical treatment. In 2009, Thailand received over 2 billion Baht in tourism income from the Middle East.
“Both nationals and expatriates in these countries have high purchasing power, a long average length of stay, and enjoy the monsoon season in Thailand. In addition, Thailand is well known for its extremely good quality of products, excellent service standards and, of course the warmth and traditional hospitality of the Thai people.” Mr Pramoth added.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, often dubbed as the Pearl of the Andaman. It is famous the world over for its beaches, diving, water-sports, and other marine-related activities.
The island also boasts a broad range of onshore activities, ranging from light recreation to ecotourism, adventure tourism, rock climbing, cave exploring, community tourism, etc. In addition, accommodation ranging from world-class resorts to tropical-style bungalows have catered to the different needs of travellers.
Arrivals are growing rapidly. In the first half of 2010, Phuket International Airport had a total of 1,700,101 international and 1,873,349 domestic passenger movements, up 49.80% and 12.45% respectively over the first half of 2009.
Thailand is also becoming increasingly popular with Middle Eastern airlines. As of October 2010, there are over 100 direct weekly flights operated by 10 airlines linked between Thailand and major cities in the Middle East.
In addition to carrying citizens of their own countries, the Middle Eastern airlines also play a major role in bringing visitors from Europe, North Africa and, increasingly, Latin America through their respective hubs.
At present, citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE can obtain a 30-day visa-free entry into Thailand at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport airport and major international checkpoints. Citizens of Saudi Arabia can get a 15-day visa on arrival.
International Public Relations Division
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2250 5500 ext. 4545-48
Fax: +66 (0) 2253 7419
Web site: www.tatnews.org