Budget carrier THAI Smile, the sister airline of Thai Airways International, began direct flights between New Delhi and Phuket on Tuesday.

Flights to the Indian capital follow last weekend’s start to flights between Phuket and Mumbai, and between Phuket and Kuala Lumpur.

THAI Smile operates four return flights a week to each of the three destinations. .

More than nine million local and foreign passengers visited Phuket last year, a 13 per cent rise from 2011.

Ranjuan Thongroot, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in New Delhi, said the first New Delhi-Phuket flight was full.

Ms Ranjuan said about a million Indian tourists visited Thailand last year, 20,000 of whom travelled to Phuket. Those numbers are expected to increase by 10 per cent this year, Ms Ranjuan said.

THAI Smile inaugurated its operation in July last year with the launch of twice-daily flights between Bangkok and Macau, using a 174-seat A320