TAT urges Q2 global campaign to offset loss

TAT urges Q2 global campaign to offset loss

Khaosan Road, usually bustling with tourists, remains empty as the pandemic strangles foreign arrivals. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Khaosan Road, usually bustling with tourists, remains empty as the pandemic strangles foreign arrivals. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Thailand should accelerate promotional campaigns targeting inbound visitors globally by the second quarter to offset the opportunity loss of 138 billion baht in the first three months, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the agency set a target of 1.2 trillion baht in tourism revenue this year, with the domestic market accounting for 58% and international travellers representing 42%.

But the renewed outbreak has affected the market, particularly domestic travel, which started losing momentum in December, with the average occupancy rate falling to 33.5% that month from 34.8% in November.

The slowdown is expected to last three months, which means an estimated opportunity loss of 138 billion baht in the first quarter, said Mr Yuthasak.

He said while the domestic market is expected to resume softly in March, the international market, from which the TAT aims to tally 500 billion baht in revenue this year, still needs a push as the industry faces a number of challenges.

"If the need for a 14-day quarantine remains, it might be hard to achieve 10 million visitors this year," said Mr Yuthasak.

Each country's policies are another factor, particularly when they will allow their citizens to travel outbound amid the fresh wave of infections globally.

For instance, China, which was the major source for Thai tourism, still imposes strict travel controls for both domestic and international trips during the Lunar New Year in February, while South Korea is urging people to refrain from outbound travel.

There are other decisive factors, such as local sentiment towards international visitors, insufficient flights and vaccine distribution in Thailand. The origin countries of travellers may also threaten hopes for a rebound this year if certain countries cannot vaccinate their citizens.

However, Mr Yuthasak said Thailand cannot stop promotional campaigns after pausing for a year as the majority of tour operators rely heavily on the international market.

The scale of the pandemic is critical as at least 100,000 workers in the hotel business are expected to lose their jobs, he said.

The country needs to prepare a mechanism for those who want to travel this year, said Mr Yuthasak.

He said the TAT has had talks with international airlines about creating inclusive tour packages for foreigners that could begin in the fourth quarter.

The TAT wants to start its global campaign and sales promotion from April to signal to foreign guests Thailand is ready to welcome back tourists.

"Every country did not stop running campaigns during the crisis. Thailand must start early, though we don't target large arrivals at the beginning," said Mr Yuthasak. "We have to do it in a cautious manner as all entries have to abide with the regulations of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration."

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