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Phuket's Best Seasons Still Up in the Air

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After all the bad news reports coming out of Phuket Island, plus a world wide recession, then it's no surprise to me that tourists numbers remain low.

Phuket's Best Seasons Still Up in the Air

By Alan Morison

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

LIKE A full 747 circling for a gap in the traffic, Phuket's signs of prosperity are in sight but out of reach.

Will there be a recovery on Phuket? And if one is on the way, when will it land? The answer is accurate, but deliberately vague: not soon.

Passenger figures for Phuket for December are hugely deceptive. International arrivals and departures jumped by 12.85 percent. Domestic traffic? Up by an astonishing 70.15 percent.


Don't believe any of that nonsense. Bear in mind that December 2008 marked the invasion of Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok.

Phuket, though, functioned as an escape route for many tourists who were trapped in the capital by the protest. While this year's December figures seem astonishingly good, do not be fooled.

For the whole of 2009, international arrivals and departures were down by 4.91 percent, with the domestic side compensating a little by increasing 5.04 percent.

The magic six million mark for passenger trips continued to elude Phuket. In 2008, the number of arrivals and departures totalled 5,730,748. Last year that figure nudged up to 5,779,918.

As 2008 was the year of the Phuket airport invasion and the Bangkok airports invasions, you can see why that 747 is still circling.

Tourists who did come brought less to spend and picked up discounts on their holidays on just about everything, except the tuk-tuks.

By our rough rule of thump, which is a typo but an appropriate one, the Phuket economy remains adrift of the record 2007-2008 high season by about 20 percent.

If you desperately need something to look forward to, Valentines Day coincides with Chinese New Year on February 14.

Be prepared to have all the fun you can before Phuket slips into another prolonged low season. There are no happy landings scheduled just yet. Roll on, 2011.

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