Overseas visitors arriving via Phuket International Airport soared by a remarkable 45.26 percent in June over the same month in 2012.
The total number of arrivals and departures by air on Phuket reached 5,665,960 for the half-year to July 1 - an increase of 19.47 percent and a remarkable tally for an airport built to handle 6.5 million passengers a year.
Domestic traffic rose by a mere 8.65 percent in June, indicating yet again Phuket's transformation from a Thai international destination to an international Thai destination.
Several important conclusions can be reached from the latest statistics, released by Airports of Thailand, which manages the Phuket facility.
..With Bali suffering a downturn in tourist numbers and beginning to panic about the drop, Phuket could rival Bali for numbers for the first time this year - and seriously aspire to the title of South East Asia's most popular holiday destination.
..International visitors by air are now effortlessly outpacing domestic visitors, making it plain that Phuket is Thailand's most international province. Local administrators, please take note.
..The so-called ''low season'' on Phuket is eroding rapidly. The figure of 789,493 arrivals and departures for June 2013 rivals the figure for April 2012. Yet June is usually the low-point of the low season.
..A tally of 5.6 million arrivals and departures for Phuket so far in 2013 indicates eleven million passengers could be the record tally for the whole year.
Phuketwan's view is that authorities in Bangkok and on Phuket must rapidly develop a strategy for balancing the tourism boom with Phuket's natural beauty. Not enough is being done.
The tourists and expats on Phuket also must be given a regular forum for expressing their viewpoints.
Phuket will always be uniquely Thai. However, as an international destination, it's time the regular meetings with Phuket's honorary consuls were restored.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand must stop misreading the airport statistics. With international arrivals and departures totalling 3.2 million for the year to July 1, it can be predicted that Phuket's international visitors could tally close to three million for the whole year.
This will rival Bali's total but fall well short of the entirely false figures being promoted by the TAT. Responsible officials should know better.