Tourists board speedboats at a pier in Don Sak district, Surat Thani, heading for Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao on Thursday. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI: Tourists are flocking to Koh Phangan for New Year celebrations on Sunday and a Full Moon party on Monday – a double whammy that local authorities hope will help earn the southern province 900 million baht in tourism income in the festive period.

Large numbers of European and Chinese tourists began arriving at Surat Thani airport on Thursday.

Jintana Suwannarat, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Surat Thani office, said the province expected about 66,000 visitors from Dec 30 to Jan 2 and would earn 922 million baht in tourism income during the period – 841 million of it spent by foreigners. 

Tourist expenditure was projected to be 94 million baht on Koh Phangan and 544 million baht on Koh Samui.

According to Miss Jintana, Thai tourists would go to mainland destinations in Surat Thani – including the Ratchaprapa dam in Ban Ta Khun district and the Khao Sok National Park in Phanom district – while foreign tourists were heading for Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Most foreign visitors came from Germany, France, Russia and England while Chinese tourists loved to go snorkelling off Koh Tao, she said.

“More Chinese people are arriving, and they are quality tourists, reserving rooms at 4- and 5-star hotels,” Miss Jintana said. The tourist influx was delayed this year by the rain and high waves, she added.

Local authorities reported that speedboat traffic from mainland Surat Thani to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao was 50% higher than normal.

News Reporter

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