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Wave of New Flights Driving Laguna Phuket's Visitor Growth

Media Release
16-Sep-2010

Laguna Phuket, the paradise Thai island’s largest destination resort, has welcomed a wave of new and increased flights from airlines in Russia, China, Australia and Qatar in the Middle East that is expected to drive a surge in tourism during the coming high season

Michael Ayling, managing director of Laguna Resorts & Hotels said:
“Phuket’s life blood is the airline industry and any new flights from established or growing markets are always welcome. We encourage airlines to continue this growth, as competition to Thailand’s tourist industry from neighbouring countries remains intense.”

The new Phuket flights are with: Qatar Airways, which launches a daily service from Doha via Kuala Lumpur on 11 October; Hainan Airlines, the first domestic Chinese carrier to fly direct to the island from Beijing with a
thrice-weekly service launched in July; Aeroflot’s new thrice-weekly direct flights from Moscow launching on 29 December; and St. Petersburg-based Rossiya Airlines, due to begin scheduled flights to Moscow for onward connections with Thai Airways’ flights to Phuket.

Russian tour operator Pegas Touristik is increasing charter flights to Bangkok and Phuket from eight Russian cities and Thai Airways’ winter schedule will increase flights between Bangkok and Moscow from three
to four a week.

In Australia, Pacific Blue, the low-cost carrier in the Virgin Blue group, has increased scheduled direct flights from two to three a week between Perth and Phuket; and Qantas subsidiary Jetstar will raise the frequency
on its Sydney to Phuket sector to five times weekly starting mid-December.

In addition, from November through March 2011 Thai Airways will operate seven flights a week from Perth via Phuket to Bangkok; 10 flights a week between Melbourne and Bangkok; and three flights a week from
Brisbane to Bangkok. Its flights between Sydney and Bangkok will increase from 14 to 18 during this high season period.

Mr. Ayling said: “The success of our established visitor markets like Australia and growing ones such as Russia, China and the Middle East depend on airline links that offer choice and flexibility. It’s extremely
pleasing that airlines are responding to meet the travel demands of these markets.”

Australia is a major source of guests for Laguna Phuket, a resort of seven deluxe hotel and villa properties on tropical beachfront land on the northwest coast of the island. In the first quarter of 2010 Australians were
sixth in its geographic market arrivals; in 2008 and 2009 they were third; and second in 2007.

Russia, China and the Middle East are also important and growing guest sources for the resort. In the first quarter of 2010 Russian guests ranked first and Chinese guests fifth by geographic markets; a strong showing for China as this period is usually dominated by European guests. Russia has been in the top three of Laguna Phuket inbound visitors for 2007-2009.

An indication of the importance of emerging markets like China and the Middle East is also evident in Laguna Phuket’s first quarter 2010 room figures. Chinese guests numbered 3,367 during this period and Middle
East guests 1,254. In 2009 the total figures were 10,169 for China and 8,239 for the Middle East.

Increased flights from Russia, China and the Middle East aligns with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s forecasts for 2010, which specifically target these three areas, amongst others such as the UK, the
Netherlands, India, Germany and Scandinavia.