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Bring on the dancing girls . . . Phuket looks set to hum this high season

Jet Phuket Takes Off for 6.3m Visitors Record

Monday, August 31, 2009
Phuketwan on Phuket's Economy

A BOOM in passenger numbers for Phuket is being predicted as hopes for the holiday high season rebound dramatically.

While arriving tourists are packing smaller wallets and paying lower prices, the good times are definitely beginning to roll again for Thailand's premier tropical island destination.

The hot prediction: Phuket will have a record 6.3 million passenger arrivals and departures before the up, down, up year comes to an end.

That tip comes from Phuket's Director of Airports of Thailand, Prathuang Somkom, who says the recovery is due to new flights from Spain, France, Germany, Australia, Korea and China.

Right now, 23 airlines are flying to Phuket but by October, that will rise to 58 marques. The airport is averaging 96 flights a day and this sometimes rises to 103.

''We could take 200 flights,'' Wing Commander Prathuang told Phuketwan today. ''And let's hope we reach that point eventually.''

What has to be remembered though is that apples are being compared not with oranges but with pears, because that's the shape Phuket's economy went in late August last year.

Flight numbers to Phuket between January and July this year are 12.05 percent down on 2008.

But that should quickly be overcome given the catastrophic effect that the three-day PAD invasion of Phuket airport had on the figures for the following four months.

The 420,474 passengers coming and going in August 2008 slumped to a mere 285,705 that September. So this year just has to be a vast improvement on that, right?

With Centara and other resort brands already talking up their occupancy numbers, Jet Phuket looks set for takeoff.

However, without wishing to poop the party, a little caution is probably advisable. Remember that Phuket nearly always manages to snatch adversity from the jaws of prosperity.

Sly smiles, however, are permitted, provided not too many people are looking.

Choruses of great joy should follow if, as Phuketwan hopes, the island has a bumper peak season and can look forward from that pinnacle to a promising 2010.

Meanwhile, get set for a big celebration when Phuket, after 12 months of waiting, finally reaches that six millionth passenger milestone for the first time.

The airport, still very much the key to Phuket's future, can now handle 15 aircraft in parking bays at the same time, and is capable of expanding that to 21 within five years.

And that's where the good news has its limitations.

Phuket will be able to grow to 12.5 million departures and arrivals, but that's the upward limit of the hemmed-in airport.

And come to think of it, that probably sets the limit for Phuket's future development. There will be no need for more resorts or housing once the airport's full capacity is reached.

At least, that's the theory.

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Monday July 6, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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