Travel agents hopeful of domestic tourism

Travel agents hopeful of domestic tourism

Targeting those with foiled Songkran trips

Tourists pose for a picture at Mai Khao beach in Phuket. Domestic destinations have become popular among local tourists whose outbound travel plans were disrupted by the outbreak. Sarot Meksophawannakul
Tourists pose for a picture at Mai Khao beach in Phuket. Domestic destinations have become popular among local tourists whose outbound travel plans were disrupted by the outbreak. Sarot Meksophawannakul

The Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) aims to attract 1 million outbound tourists who booked tour packages over Songkran but failed to use them because of the pandemic to travel domestically instead, in hopes of raising 20 billion baht in tourism revenue.

TTAA president Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn said that if the government lets people travel domestically without facing a 14-day quarantine, 80% of outbound tourists are willing to travel within the nation as an alternative because they are confident that the country is safe.

"Outbound Thai tourists totalled 12 million last year, with average spending of 20,000 baht per person," he said. "But with travel restrictions this year, the number of local outbound travellers is expected to drop by more than 50%."

According to the Tourism Department, 258 tourism companies submitted forms to return their business licences in April, followed by 206 firms in May.

Mr Thanapol said the number of operators deciding to quit the tourism business is unlikely to rise significantly because of the outbreak.

But the association has warned of a further collapse in the next quarter, particularly if tourism-related activities are not fully allowed.

The TTAA held a discussion with travel agent members to shift strategic focus to domestic travel by encouraging tourists to book tourism services from operators and low-cost airlines for domestic travel.

Thai tourists normally take three trips a year on average, but the outbreak will compel them to make five domestic trips this year because inbound flights remain restricted, Mr Thanapol said.

He said positive sentiment towards domestic tourism means that the country is gradually returning to normal, which will boost confidence among both local and international tourists.

He expects international travel to resume in October or when so-called travel bubbles between Thailand and low-risk countries have been successfully put in place.

Following this measure, international tourists will be the first-movers to Thailand, while the outbound market will restart at a slower pace.

Mr Thanapol said China will be the first country that can reconnect with Thai tourism after managing the outbreak effectively by being the first country to implement a lockdown policy, followed by Japan.

"If the destinations are completely safe, there is surely enough pent-up demand from Thai travellers as people get bored when they are stuck in their cities for a while," he said.


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