Phuket targets Middle Eastern market to counter seasonal tourism slumpLegacy

Phuket’s tourism industry has set its sights on the affluent Middle Eastern market to counterbalance the seasonal slump in arrivals from Russia and Europe. Over 30 Phuket hospitality businesses presented their offerings at the Arabian Travel Market 2024 (ATM 2024) held in Dubai, aiming to attract high-spending tourists from the region.

The ATM 2024, conducted from May 6 to May 9, broke previous records by attracting over 46,000 attendees from 160 countries within four days, a remarkable increase from the predicted 41,000. The event organisers noted that the crowd included 33,500 visitors.

The Thai delegation was spearheaded by Thapanee Kiatpaiboon, the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Phuket, a preferred destination for Middle Eastern tourists, was prominently represented by more than 30 hospitality stakeholders.

The notable figures guiding the Phuket delegation included Phongsura Khuphongsakorn, the Secretary to the President of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO), and Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, the President of the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA).

“The PTA collaborated with the TAT to organise events at the Amazing Thailand Pavilion. Visitors were introduced to a variety of Phuket products linked with community tourism, such as Phuket pineapple pies, Tao Sor desserts, cashew nuts, and Thai tea. There were activities for visitors to taste and get to know local products, which received a lot of attention from the attendees,” revealed the PTA in a press release after the event.

The business-to-business segment was also successful, with Phuket’s hospitality leaders engaging in four days of discussions with tour operators from the Middle East and Asia.

Phuket tourism

The talks were centred around niche groups like luxury travellers, families, and newlyweds, who are considered quality tourists with substantial purchasing power. These tourists can visit Phuket throughout the year, most notably, during the low season.

The ATM 2024 fair took place just after Thailand concluded its 2023 to 2024 high season. International carriers transitioned to their summer schedules on the last Sunday of March, naturally restricting arrivals from Europe, Russia, and other winter markets since April. The absence of a Songkran surge in arrivals highlighted the seasonal nature of Thailand’s tourism, although the country performed well under the circumstances.

According to Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS), international arrivals in 2023 totalled 28.1 million, a 154.4% increase year-on-year, with 600,499 of those visitors originating from the Middle East (+98.8%). In the first quarter of 2024, total arrivals reached 9.3 million (+43.5%), with 88,024 from the Middle East (+12.2%).

Saudi Arabia was the leading source market in the region, with 178,113 arrivals in 2023 and 27,590 in the first three months of 2024. It was closely followed by the United Arab Emirates, with 138,934 in 2023 and 15,055 in the first quarter of 2024. Other significant contributors included Oman (86,488 and 13,808 respectively) and Kuwait (13,808 and 14,361), reported The Phuket News.

Based on annual visitor numbers, Saudi Arabia ranks alongside countries like Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Kazakhstan. The total arrivals from the Middle East surpass those from Scandinavia but are lower than those from Australia and New Zealand.

The story Phuket targets Middle Eastern market to counter seasonal tourism slump as seen on Thaiger News.

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Author: Mitch Connor