TAT focuses on domestic tourism

TAT focuses on domestic tourism

Tourist boats anchored off Pattaya on Monday. The Tourism Authority of Thailand will encourage people whose foreign travel plans were thwarted this year by the pandemic to instead travel around Thailand. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Tourist boats anchored off Pattaya on Monday. The Tourism Authority of Thailand will encourage people whose foreign travel plans were thwarted this year by the pandemic to instead travel around Thailand. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is looking to convert half of the 12 million Thais who had been expected to travel overseas this year into domestic tourists.

People will be encouraged to show cancelled international air tickets and hotel bookings abroad in order to buy exclusive luxury packages at a special price in Thailand.

TAT will discuss details of the project with leading hotel operators, airlines and online travel agents next week, said governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the number of outbound travellers this year was forecast at 12-13 million. In the first quarter, many people booked trips abroad that later had to be cancelled.

This campaign aims at those who still have purchasing power and a strong urge to travel. 

“I’m confident that this scheme will receive a good cooperation from top branded operators as they start to launch special packages to attract Thai guests,” Mr Yuthasak said.

“If 6 million from the outbound market is converted to domestic travellers, the number of domestic trips should double as some might travel more than once.”

At the moment the Japanese government is considering relaxing travel restrictions on visitors from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand because of theses countries’ effectiveness in curbing the virus.

Last year, 1.31 million Thais visited Japan. Early this year, prior to the pandemic, the number was 210,049.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has assigned the TAT to study which countries in Asia have managed the pandemic well and have good economic relations, for potential "travel bubbles".

Mr Yuthasak said the number of foreign tourists in a travel bubble will be limited to avoid importing new virus cases.

Business travellers who boost the Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) industry and tourists in health and wellness segment will be the first groups to visit the country.

Meanwhile, 11 tourism operators in Phuket submitted a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha this week saying that the pandemic from February to May cost Phuket about 120 billion baht in lost revenue, and could reach 160 billion baht if it gets only 5 million tourists this year.

The private sector is urging the government to allow domestic flights to resume from June 16 and use the “Phuket model” to implement a multi-screening process for land, sea and air transport.

Tourism operators also propose that the island limit the number of visitors to 25,000 per day, which they see as suited to the healthcare capability of the province.


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