Popular resort island of Phuket in Thailand has seen big hike in the number of Indians flocking to the island, riding on increased flight connectivity and cut in prices of resorts.
Indian tourists to Thai province rose from about 61,000 in 2017 to more than 236,000 in the first nine months of 2019. The number is expected to reach 300,000 by the end of December, according to the Phuket Tourism Association.
Since October last year, Indian low-cost air carriers have operated direct flights between Phuket and three major cities – New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, triggering a spurt in the arrivals.
There are also reports that more Indian cities will be connected directly to Phuket which can further increase the numbers. Currently, 33 flights are operated weekly by Indigo and Go Air.
In 2018, some 95,000 Indian travellers visited Phuket. By September this year, the number has already exceeded 236,000, according to the Phuket Immigration Office. In 2018, the Thai government introduced a temporary visa-on-arrival fee exemption scheme for Indian tourists.
Indian tourists are also happy that there many Indian restaurants to provide the Indian cuisine which is one of the many attractions for Indians who are very particular about the food habits.
Compared to a couple of years ago, Patong now offers more services catering to the growing Indian market – from Bollywood clubs and bars to Indian restaurants. Tourists – Indian or otherwise – often come to entertainment venues in Patong, where they can dance to Hindi music or see Indian belly dance shows.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, more than 1.46 million visitors last year were Indians and more than half of them travelled to Thailand for the first time. The most popular destination was Bangkok, followed by Chonburi and Phuket.