First cruise ship in three years docks in Phuket

Ahoy, Phuket! The largest cruise ship in Asia, Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, became the first cruise ship in three years to dock at the resort island of Phuket last week, signaling a return to normalcy after the pandemic and a continuing rebound in tourism. It was a welcome sight for Phuket and its tourism industry.

Phuket Governor Narong Woonsiew welcomed 4,600 visitors who disembarked for a day trip before the 18-story Quantum Ultra-class vessel sailed on to Singapore.

Tourism is essential for a healthy Thai economy, accounting for about 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) directly and as much as 20 percent indirectly. Thailand earlier exercised public health measures for many months to stop the spread of COVID-19. With the reopening of for tourism since the middle of this year, the number of visitors is steadily rising.

Phuket, known as the Pearl of the Andaman Sea, has long been a popular port of call for cruise ships and yachts. The island has a wealth of white-sand beaches, luxury hotels, and smaller nearby islands that are close to pristine.

In 2019, Phuket welcomed 154 cruise ships carrying 485,000 visitors. Cruise ships were one of the first businesses to be mothballed during the pandemic after COVID-19 outbreaks on several vessels.

The Cruise ship website reported that “besides Singapore and Thailand, Malaysia has also opened up for cruise ships. Indonesia is also expected to open up soon, with resorts World Cruises already scheduling port calls to Bali in the coming weeks.”

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