Thai Travel Agents Association puts off major sales fair

Thai Travel Agents Association puts off major sales fair

Mr Suthiphong says a return to outbound tourism could take two years.
Mr Suthiphong says a return to outbound tourism could take two years.

Outbound tours are not likely to return within two years, with a travel agents' association postponing an annual sales event until next year.

Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, the newly elected president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said his main responsibility is to help tour members switch to the domestic market and attract a segment that has the potential to go abroad on a premium domestic tour programme.

The outbound tourism business depends on the situation in both the origin and destination countries.

Although Thailand has effectively managed the pandemic, if destinations suffer a second wave of infections, particularly Japan, a long-time favourite destination of Thai outbound tourists, operators will have to wait indefinitely, Mr Suthiphong said.

On Thursday, the TTAA had a discussion with the Japan National Tourism Organization about the future of outbound tourism between Thailand and Japan.

Mr Suthiphong said outbound operators have to start business-to-business (B2B) contacts with partners in the country, such as hotels and tour buses, instead of working with foreign companies as was the norm in pre-pandemic times.

The association also aims to help members with job training programmes from the Labour Ministry to find new sources of revenue.

Due to international travel restrictions that are likely to be prolonged, the association decided to postpone the Thai International Travel Fair (TITF) from August to January.

If the virus is still a threat in January, the TTAA may postpone the event to August 2021 instead.

The group will discuss solutions with Impact Exhibition Management and expects to reach a conclusion on the organising date within this month.

If the event is held in January, the size will be reduced from 20,000 square metres to 5,000 sq m at Challenger Hall, Impact Muang Thong Thani.

"The TITF event will focus on domestic travel with limitations on international tourism," Mr Suthiphong said. "We also plan to invite other tourism associations to join this event."

He said 189 national tourism organisations and travel agents who provide tour packages to Japan and China have already reserved booths, and a few financial institutions have proposed sponsoring the event.

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