Dim long weekend ahead

Dim long weekend ahead

Tourists pose for pictures on the bridge on the River Kwai, a popular tourist site in Kanchanaburi province.
Tourists pose for pictures on the bridge on the River Kwai, a popular tourist site in Kanchanaburi province.

Domestic travel during the four-day weekend is expected to be less lively, with average hotel occupancy running at just 24%, due to plentiful holidays in July.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) estimates that local tourists will take 1.89 million trips this weekend (July 25-28), generating 6.8 billion baht, less than July 4-7, which saw 2.35 million trips earning 8.58 billion baht nationwide.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said average hotel occupancy for the previous holiday was 28%, which is higher than expected this week, ranging from 9% to 51% per region.

The central region has the healthiest bookings, at 51% from 683,000 trips, as most tourists still prefer an excursion nearby.

Some tourists already spent their budget on the past long weekend, since there were two Buddhist holidays for which families would go back to their hometown to perform religious activities together. They are choosing shorter-distance trips this weekend.

Meanwhile, southern Thailand is still struggling with slow domestic demand: average occupancy for four days is running at 9%, with 170,000 trips generating just 782 million baht.

The popular provinces are destinations within driving distance from the capital, such as Kanchanaburi, expected to host 178,843 trips, followed by Bangkok (122,701), Chon Buri (119,571), Prachuap Khiri Khan (115,328) and Nakhon Ratchasima (85,860).

Mr Yuthasak said the monsoon season is another reason preventing tourists from taking any trips down South, as most activities in those provinces involve islands and the sea.

"The problem of domestic tourism now is about the imbalance between weekdays and weekends, and we could clearly notice divergent figures from those two booking periods," said Nuntaporn Komonsittivate, head of commercial operations at Thai Lion Air (TLA).

She said the average load factor for all domestic routes is running at 70%. But Phuket, the busiest destination for TLA before the pandemic, has not seen strong support from local demand.

The load factor for Phuket is about 60%, which is lower than for Ubon Ratchathani, a northeastern province, as Thai customers cannot replace foreign travellers.

Ms Nuntaporn said TLA is flying with 11 aircraft. The utilisation of each jet is 7-8 hours a day. The number has improved significantly because of long holidays and tourism stimulus schemes.

She urged the government to create another holiday left over from the cancelled Songkran festival in April for a weekend in September, as that month has no long holidays like July and August.

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