TAT awaits upsurge from European travellers next year
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is hopeful the European market will revive following the outbreak, with the first group of Scandinavians expected to arrive later this year.
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said prior to the pandemic, the number of tourism receipts from the European market accounted for one-third of total revenue.
The goal for next year is to increase the length of stay, rather than focusing on volume.
As of Oct 20, about 120 Scandinavians informed Thai embassies, the Thailand Longstay Company or the TAT they would like to enter the country via the special tourist visa (STV), which allow visitors from low-risk areas priority entry.
He said tourists from these countries normally prefer longer stays, averaging 18 days, and are considered to be from low-risk areas. Some potential tourists have already begun the progress of planning a return to Thailand, said Mr Siripakorn.
Even though many countries in Europe have been hit by a second wave, there is still opportunity to bring back travellers from markets such as Russia and the UK by using other visa types such as non-immigrant visa O-A for retirement, he said.
There are around 4,000 Elite Card members in Europe, with the largest tally of 829 members from the UK, followed by the US (697), France (495), Germany (307) and Russia (284), said Mr Siripakorn.
As the number of semi-commercial flights dedicated for foreigners with certificates of eligibility (COEs) from long-haul destinations will increase in November and December, he believes tourism activity will gradually pick up by then.
"The last two months of the year is a trial period to restart the market and test the waters, so we do not expect a large number of tourists," Mr Siripakorn said. "We hope to see more of them at the end of winter."
The TAT is set to introduce the Amazing Thailand Plus Package, offering a one-stop website for tourists wanting to visit via the STV scheme, with information about visa and COEs, available flights, alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotels and post-quarantine tourism plans where the TAT will subsidise their travel costs.
The package is a collaboration between Thai Airways International, the Thai Hotels Association and the Association of Thai Travel Agents.
The campaign is expected to start in mid-November and run until March next year.
In related news, ITB Berlin 2021, one of the world's leading travel shows, will be conducted as a fully virtual event to contain the outbreak.
"We have to enhance our ability to promote ourselves at virtual tourism events as this is the new practice for the tourism trade," he said.
Prior to the outbreak this year, the TAT developed the Thailand Tourism Virtual Market (TTVM), a business-to-business platform that allows local sellers and global buyers to connect and make business deals online.
The first phase of TTVM was launched in June with 489 sellers, 353 buyers and 320 successful business deals.
The next virtual event the TAT is hosting is the health and wellness virtual trade meet on Dec 15-17.