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It's a big weekend for buffaloes and those who want to ride one

Phuket Relies on Jetstar Hoppers, Not Nokkers

Thursday, August 7, 2008
Thursday TRENDS

PERHAPS they do have too many fights in Patong bars but Phuket has reason to be grateful to Australians right now.

With three low-cost Jetstar flights arriving every week, the kangaroo hop service is providing the lifeblood for the island's resort industry.

The number of Australians visiting Phuket rose 31 percent in 2007 to 345,641, more than 60,000 more than second-placed Britons.

Almost every resort contacted by Phuketwan notes the high proportion of Australian guests right now, so it seems the Aussie Invasion is continuing.

A Jetstar spokesperson on the island said that nothing was likely to change in a hurry. Unlike Europe, Australia is not a true long-haul flight, nor has its economy been seriously affected yet by the global downturn.

Latest statistics show that seven percent more Australians travelled overseas in the 12 months to June, with Thailand, Indonesia and Fiji the major beneficiaries.

China, surprisingly, fell out of favor. Perhaps for a few Aussies, Friday's anniversary of the 8-8-88 massacre in Burma will be even more significant than the start of the Beijing Games.

Over the past 10 years, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found overseas travel had become more popular for Australians, rising from three million visits in 1997-98 to a peak of 5.1 million in June 2007.

Tempted to join them? From Phuket to Sydney, a return flight will cost you about 30,000 baht.

Nok Nok, Who's There?

NOK AIR may be about to fly the Bangkok-Phuket route again twice-weekly from this week, on weekends only.

Whether that helps to overcome the complaints of holidaymakers and business travellers who cannot get to Phuket remains to be seen. (Call or email Phuketwan if you have problems.)

In an industry that relies on consistency, the on again off again approach to the route is a strange way to run an airline. But perhaps it should come as no surprise.

Nicolas Ionides, writing on flightglobal.com, says that Thailand aviation is undergoing major change as high fuel prices and weakening demand force much-needed restructuring.

He says the market, which is especially price-sensitive, has roughly tripled in size since Nok Air, One-Two-Go and Thai Air Asia launched in 2003 and 2004, from about four million passengers a year to more than 12 million.

Even Thai Air Asia is in a continuing weak financial state, Ionides writes, but their focus on international services as well provides a better balance.

''The Thai domestic market is small and a big portion is transfer traffic from Bangkok, which they can't get,'' says Mark Webb, a Hong Kong-based airline analyst.

''It's hard to see how anyone makes money on it.''

Today's Bangkok Post reports that One-Two-Go, suspended amid safety concerns, faces the cost of compensating large numbers of laid-off staff if it does not resume flying.

An ''air of uncertainty'' now surrounds the flying future of the carrier and its stablemate, Orient Thai Airlines, the report says.

Buffaloes Come Out To Play

THIS WEEKEND marks a piece of local history: the start of the region's first buffalo festival, over three days on Koh Yao Noi, off Phuket's east coast, from August 10 to August 12.

It may not yet have the pulling power of the running of the bulls in Pamplona or the Calgary stampede, but islanders have high hopes that buffalo riding and racing will attract visitors who want to join in.

Some day there will be bragging rights in saying you were at the very first one.

Day trips and overnight homestays are available from 950 baht. Details and bookings can be made through Khun Promchote on 081 8697431

TOMORROW, check our through-the-day updates on the special summit meeting on Racha Island that will probably decide the future of the coral reefs around Phuket and the region.

Look for
TRENDS
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email bigislandmedia@gmail.com or telephone 081 6513489.

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Look for
TRENDS
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading.

To tell us your news, email bigislandmedia@gmail.com or telephone 081 6513489.

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Wednesday July 24, 2024
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