Revival of global flights tops agenda

Revival of global flights tops agenda

A nearly empty passenger terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport. Tour operators want civil aviation officials to lift restrictions on international flights in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A nearly empty passenger terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport. Tour operators want civil aviation officials to lift restrictions on international flights in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Tour operators plan to speak with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) about lifting restrictions on international commercial flights in the fourth quarter to allow the Safe and Sealed plan to take shape.

Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said state agencies and operators must cooperate to drive the economy forward during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Safe and Sealed plan is the result of collaboration between the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) and 13 tourism sectors, including hotels, inbound tour operators and tour bus services.

While the private sector is awaiting a response from the government after proposing the scheme last week, council representatives in each province are working with locals to gain a better understanding of the idea.

Mr Vichit said Phuket shows the strongest potential to receive the first group of international tourists, followed by islands in Krabi and Surat Thani provinces.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said operators in Phuket suggested a similar idea by using alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotels to welcome only long-stay tourists.

Those long-term guests wouldn't be kept in a specific area after completing a 14-day quarantine and would be allowed to travel freely in the country, which should contribute tourism income to other provinces, he said.

"Even though Phuket has seen increasing numbers of local tourists lately, the overall situation in the province is still in doubt because the long distance is an obstacle," Mr Bhummikitti said.

Roughly 40% of the 2,000 hotels in Phuket have reopened, with most hoteliers planning to restart in October.

Mr Bhummikitti said state agencies must provide less-complicated stimulus measures or add more privileges in order to boost domestic trips.

A tourism cash coupon is one of the possible ideas that could be used in the next phase of the We Travel Together stimulus campaign.

Regarding the cabinet approval of additional holidays in September, Mr Bhummikitti said the four-day weekend of Sept 4-7 should drive tourism activities after most locals travelled to their hometown in July rather than heading out for excursions.

"New holidays will bring another chance for leisure trips," said Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, TCT president. "People can plan their trips in advance because the cabinet announced it early."

Despite still taking place in the low season, Mr Chairat hopes the new phase of the tourism stimulus will stimulate local demand more than in July and August.

He said operators are waiting to see whether new Finance Minister Predee Daochai will provide effective measures to benefit tourism.


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