Operators to restart limited packages by year-end
Outbound operators hope to restart packages with a small number at the end of this year, while presenting premium domestic packages as options for those with less confidence in the tourism industry.
Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said operators are waiting for more updates on concrete plans from the government for inbound and outbound regulations, particularly after many countries started mass vaccination programmes.
He forecast that outbound tourism might begin at the end of this year for independent tourists or small groups of no more than 10 people, with this trend lasting for a couple of years.
Due to that limitation, some outbound operators have to focus on domestic travel to sustain business throughout this year.
Prior to the new outbreak, TTAA held pilot trips for members to test products in the South and Northeast, while organising business-to-business matching with local destination management companies and tourism-related operators to help create new packages.
"The association urges members to adapt their business to meet demand from Thai outbound tourists who are considered the only target we have," Mr Suthiphong said.
"We cannot wait until outbound activities resume to start earning," Mr Suthiphong said.
Mr Suthiphong pointed out that vaccines are the key driver to resume international tourism. If inbound tourism can proceed, then outbound tourism trips would follow.
Resuming tourism activities depends on the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and the Public Health Ministry who are responsible for this matter.
In addition, TTAA and the Tourism Council of Thailand plan to introduce premium tour packages in local communities with the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau after the outbreak subsides.
Travel sentiment deriving from effective virus containment and the economic situation are key to tourists making a decision, said Maiyarat Pheerayakoses, managing director of Lee Ben Travel Service.
She said tour operators have to offer value-for-money packages with high quality products in order to attract potential customers.
Ms Maiyarat said it is the perfect time for locals to travel with tour operators which can help ensure their safety under new practices and the price is more affordable.
In the pre-Covid era, the price for premium tourism packages to Koh Lanta and Phuket for three days and two nights averaged 20,000 baht. Now the packages are 40% cheaper as hotel prices are lower.