Flood woes latest headache for northeastern operators
A prolonged economic slowdown and severe flooding in northeastern provinces could hurt tourism next year, say local operators.
"The tourism industry is expected to stay slothful in the final quarter and throughout next year due to these two conditions," said Phuriwat Limthavornrat, president of the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT).
Despite the coming peak season, operators believe that the number of tourists in northeastern provinces ravaged by floods for weeks may drop by 2-3%.
The unexpected flooding coincided with the start of the government's 1,000-baht cash giveaway and rebate scheme for local tourism.
"Tour operators, therefore, plan to launch relief plans such as CSR tourism programmes in flood-hit areas, especially Ubon Ratchathani and Yasothon provinces, during November and December," Mr Phuriwat said.
The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department reports that flash floods have hit 32 provinces since August.
Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said there are no reports of tourism sites or tourists affected in flood-hit provinces.
Speaking at the same seminar yesterday, Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Thai Federation of Provincial Tourist Associations (TFOPTA), said tourists will still visit Thailand during the high season but the growth rate will remain flat or grow slightly, especially in the South and the North, because internal and external factors are dampening the urge to travel and spend.
The overall situation in the South seems to be improving, as the number of tourist arrivals rose by about 10% year-on-year in August.
Indian tourists and short-haul visitors from Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia have helped offset lower Chinese numbers.
Meanwhile, the winter season in the North can attract visitors from domestic and international markets, especially Instagram-loving millennials.
Tour operators are confident that at least 70% of Thais out of the 10 million who take part in the 1,000-baht tourism cash handout and 15% cash rebate will help generate income for the economy and support domestic tourism during the fourth quarter.
To encourage more Thais to travel domestically, the TAT is joining forces with the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta), the ADT and the TFOPTA in launching an online tourism platform called the Tourism Department Store.
The one-stop service platform aims to attract new groups of local tourists, such as Gen Y, female travellers and active senior citizens, and will have six "floors".
Yuthasak Supasorn said the TAT will promote the platform in both online and offline channels to create a marketing impact. There are between 120 and 150 operators offering 300 tour packages, of which 100 can be bought online.
Some 1.2 million baht in transactions are expected to be generated each day via the platform.
The Tourism Department Store will increase to 10 floors with 100 tourism operators on each floor within the next six months. Packages for foreigners will be added in the future, firstly for expats and the Asean market.