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Phuket flight numbers are still sinking, but not as fast as previously

Phuket Fall Stalls in Latest Flier Figures

Monday, May 11, 2009
PASSENGER arrivals on flights to Phuket in April went into an encouraging holding pattern compared to the early 2009 nose-dive.

Figures supplied to Phuketwan today show 482,758 people came and went through the airport in April, with the Songkran-Easter holiday and Bike Week probably helping to hold numbers just 4.53 percent down on last year.

Flight numbers did not do quite so well, dipping 9.17 percent on April 2008 to 3158 arrivals and departures.

While the figure for passenger numbers is encouraging, there is no way of knowing whether it represents a trend back towards better times.

Too many outside influences are in play at present for anything more than educated guesses about what lies ahead through the low/green/summer season.

The economic downturn is expected to continue to batter the travel industry worldwide.

Thailand's political uncertainty remains difficult to read, and the impact of the H1N1 virus may not be dramatic but is sure to be negative.

Early bookings remain a greatly prized result but most everywhere, last-minute Internet bookings at lowest-possible prices is now the norm.

The Asean Plus Six Summit in mid-June is not seen as a great boon for attracting tourists generally but it will benefit several Karon-Patong-Kata resorts and associated businesses.

With the right kind of peaceful, low-key outcome, the gathering of 16 leaders, including those from potential money-spinners China, India, Australia, Japan and South Korea, should give brand Phuket a kick-along in terms of future conferences and summits.

Dangling a large if familiar carrot, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjjajiva told Phuketwan yesterday that a successful Asean summit should see Phuket gain a permanent international conference centre around 2011.

Such a project is already on the government's list of megaprojects, he added.

The PM's short surprise holiday can do brand Phuket no harm, either, especially among hard-working Bangkok residents trying to decide where to take a quick break.

When all is said and done, Phuket continues to do a whole lot better weathering three crises at once (Look Mum, I can juggle!) than other destinations in Thailand.

Perhaps that's because the island has had so much practice.

Just for the record, passenger numbers arriving and departing Phuket dipped 13.62 year on year in October-December, then 16.24 percent in January-March.

It is, as we have previously noted, a setback to the island's economy that wipes out about two years of growth.

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