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02/11/2010 - Phuket tourism increasing despite strong Baht

As Phuket experiences an increase in the number of tourists visiting the Island, its economy appears not to have been affected by the recent rise in the value of the Thai Baht against major currencies.

The Baht has gained more than ten percent against the US dollar and Euro this year to date, rising to its highest level in thirteen years.

The strong Baht has also led to an increase in the number of Thai's travelling abroad.

Charoen Wangananont, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) which monitors the outbound tourism industry, said recently that 5.3 million to 5.4 million Thais were expected to travel abroad this year.

The figures are over half a million more than last year with around sixty percent of travellers being tourists and the other forty percent consisting of students and business people.

Eighty percent of Thai’s traveling abroad stay within Asia, with Singapore, China, Japan and South Korea being the top destinations.

Due to the favourable exchange rate, long haul destinations including Europe, Australia and New Zealand have experienced a seventeen percent rise in Thai travellers.

So far, local tour operators have not been affected by the Baht's rise. In fact, during the last three months, Thailand has seen an increase in tourists particularly from China and other Asian countries.

Following the growth in the numbers of tourists visiting Phuket, airlines from China and the Middle East, such as Qatar Airways, are adding charter flights to Bangkok and Phuket.

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