Luo Baoming, the provincial Communist Party chief for Hainan province, is seeking to launch direct flights from the Chinese tourism island of Hainan to Phuket.
Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong announced the news after meeting with Mr Luo, who himself is a former governor of Hainan province, and his team of Chinese envoys earlier this week.
The visit was to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China and to mark the 10-year anniversary of Phuket and Hainan becoming ¡°sister cities¡±, Governor Nisit explained on Wednesday (July 29).
¡°Hainan officials have asked for Sichuan Airlines to provide direct flights from the Hainan capital Sanya to Phuket because many Chinese want to come to visit here,¡± he said.
¡°We have consulted with [officials at] Phuket International Airport, and they have approved direct flights from Hainan to land after midnight and three times a week.¡±
However, the after the ongoing major upgrade to Phuket Airport is complete, the flights might be moved forward to land in Phuket at 8pm three times a week, he added.
Hainan tourism officials were also looking to learn from Phuket¡¯s expertise in attracting international travellers, Gov Nisit added.
¡°Hainan, and Sanya, have only domestic tourists, and the Chinese government would like to learn Phuke¡¯s secret in attracting people from many places,¡± he said.
¡°We explained that we have the best Tourism Business Association, who are experts in tourism marketing and know when it is safe to take risks.¡±
Other developments announced included an exchange program between Phuket Rajabhat University and Hainan University, with both universities providing personnel education and skills training in tourism.
¡°This will help Phuket to better cater to the increasing number of Chinese tourists coming to Phuket,¡± Gov Nisit said.
¡° Last year, Phuket had 1.2 million Chinese tourists from total of 12.5mn and this year from January to July 24 we had total of 7.2mn tourists visit here. That¡¯s an increase of 11.67 per cent, and if we continue to keep up our good relations, the number is going to multiply.¡±
¡°Next year, Phuket province plans to sign an MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] with Xiamen ¨C in Fujian province,¡± he added.