The Kasikorn Bank KResearch Centre reports that ''the number of tourists visiting Phuket in 2012 will reach perhaps 7.4 million, up 12.1 percent YoY, though this would be lower than the 21.0 percent growth projected for 2011.
''Of the tourists visiting the island this year, 86 percent will likely be international tourists.''
The Assistant Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand on Phuket, Wanaphapar Suksombul, said today that the figures for the official number of tourists visiting Phuket last year are still being compiled and will not be known until mid-year.
Estimates generally put the number of overseas tourists visiting Phuket last year at between two million and 2.5 million, based on progressive Immigration statistics.
The Kasikorn Bank KResearch reports as follows:
''Over the past 10 years, Phuket - one of Thailand's most famous islands - has endured numerous challenges internally and externally, which have undermined its lucrative international tourism business to a certain extent.
''The latest mishap was the earthquakes off the west coast of Sumatra on April 11, 2012, followed by a tsunami alert, prompting local residents and tourists there, and elsewhere along the Andaman Coast, to seek higher ground. Then, there were several mild earthquakes and aftershocks having an epicenter in Phuket???s Thalang District.
''Despite this, Phuket's tourism industry has remained intact, as international tourists have not canceled travel plans to this island haven. There was even a large group of MICE tourists from China who visited Phuket, April 25-28. [Amway China's visit to Laguna Phuket actually extended from mid-April to mid-May].
''According to data compiled by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the number of international tourist arrivals passing immigration checkpoints in Phuket grew 22 percent YoY in April. As a result, that figure increased 13 percent YoY in 4M12.
''KResearch is of the view that tourism potential in Phuket, plus the proactive and continual cooperation between public and private sector agencies there are key reasons helping Phuket to quickly regain international tourist confidence after the earthquakes.
''Given this, we expect that the number of tourists visiting Phuket in 2012 will reach perhaps 7.4 million, up 12.1 percent YoY, though this would be lower than the 21.0 percent growth projected for 2011.
''Of the tourists visiting the island this year, 86 percent will likely be international tourists. As a result, Phuket should be able to generate around THB140 billion in tourism income in 2012, up 7.7 percent YoY, but still well below the 20 percent growth forecast for 2011.
''Of that income, 94 percent will come from foreign tourists.''
Whether or not the prjected figures are accurate or even close, the bank's recommendations for development are likely to meet with agreement.
According to ttrweekly.com, the bank suggests the following:
..Develop a marketing strategy for meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions and improve business tourism knowledge and management and personnel competency;
..Fast track the Phuket Convention Centre project to accommodate mega events;
..Build tourist confidence by improving information and the management of the earthquake security system, add better communications channels and publicise evacuation plans and drills to gain maximum participation. Open a single information centre to reduce confusion; maintain a stock of reserve food and medicine; and ensure there are safety signs and directions in Thai, English, Chinese, and Malaysian;
..Rehabilitate natural resources in Phuket's tourist destinations including 39 nearby islands;
..Cooperate and seek partners in the international market such as financial institutions, hotels, airlines and tour operators;
..Push the five provinces on Andaman Coast - Phuket, Ranong, Krabi, Phang Nga, and Trang - to be a diving destinations to tap high spending tourists;
..Limit capacity and timeframes for visits to national parks and island to allow adequate recovery.