India Airlift to Phuket Rising, Bolstering Low-Season Tourism Hopes
Phuket hotels are increasingly looking to the sky for answers, as the high season is set to come to an abrupt end after the Thai New Year Songkran holiday which is winding down. With two of the largest significant overseas markets – China and Russia now riding the bench, the search is on for replacement travelers.
One country that has strong fundamentals is India. In 2019 close to 2 million Indian visitors came to Thailand. In more recent times, in the Maldives at the end of Q1, India ranked third to the island destination which demonstrates a strong appetite for beach resort locations.
As we often say, airlift is everything and over the past few months, there has been an increasing trend of flights. After just over a one-year absence, leading Indian carrier IndiGo flights from Phuket to Mumbai and Delhi return. As for Bangkok, other cities will include Chennai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.
Additionally, Thai Smile has commenced flights from Mumbai that stop both in Phuket and Bangkok. Feeder direct flights are also being restored from the flagship carrier Thai Airways International from Bangkok to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Bengaluru. The gateway flights to Bangkok in the past have been popular for travelers onto Phuket, which now will be serviced by connections with Thai Smile.
GoAir has also been servicing the routes between the island to Mumbai and Delhi and has been a consistent carrier for Indian travelers for much of the pandemic.
One of the most significant attractions for the Indian market is destination weddings in Thailand. Typically, these events can see hotel bookings of 200-250 rooms or more and are multi-day events. Talking to leading organizer Shloka Events, there is much pent-up demand and weddings are returning, though group sizes are off 20-25%. Phuket is a favored location but also Khao Lak, especially at the JW Marriott which has expanded both the hotel and event facilities to cater to larger groups.
Looking forward to some of the lowest periods for Phuket hotels traditionally in May to mid-June and then September, there is every reason the island has to aggressively work to markets where airlift is, given you can’t stay there if you can’t get there.