TAT expecting 44% fewer trips during long weekend
The damage from the second wave of the pandemic persists for the tourism industry, as an estimate suggests there will be 44% fewer domestic trips during the Buddhist festival holiday which begins on Friday, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the long-weekend holiday starting from Makha Bucha Day is forecast to stimulate 1.09 million domestic trips, a decline of 44% when compared with the same period last year.
The fresh wave of the pandemic earlier this year made people cautious about travelling and spending, with Makha Bucha Day spending this year forecast to reach 3.9 billion baht, a decrease of 38% from last year's level.
The average hotel occupancy countrywide is estimated to reach just 16%, 50% lower than the corresponding period last year.
He said the new wave of the pandemic is also having a direct impact on many tourism-related activities as some provinces have cancelled their religious events which normally attract massive crowds in a bid to curb the virus.
For example, worship of the ancient Buddha's footprint at Khao Khitchakut in Chanthaburi has been cancelled. This is ranked among the top 10 religious events in Thailand, leading to an estimated 74% drop in trips to the East of the country, while average expenditure there is expected to have plunged by 68% to 471 million baht.
The East also has a low hotel occupancy rate of 12% but this is still higher than the situation in the South, where the occupancy rate is just 9%.
Despite Bangkok being ranked the leading destination during this holiday weekend with the number of trips expected to reach 132,357, many people would tend to take a one-day trip rather than an overnight stay, while the average occupancy rate in the capital was expected to fall by 61% to just 13%.
Although Thailand faced a critical virus situation in January, the number of international arrivals picked up slightly, reaching 7,694, up from 6,566 in December. However, this still represented a 99.8% decrease compared with the corresponding period last year.
Anantachai Wannaphan, marketing manager at Thai VietJet, said prior to the fresh pandemic wave late last year, the airline was operating 120 domestic flights per day due to growing demand.
But in January, the number dropped to 30 flights per day as the government and provincial governors imposed travel restrictions in many areas.
While the situation this month improved as the airline increased its flights to 80 per day, it may have to wait until April for 100% resumption in flights.
In a separate development, Asia Aviation Plc, major shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA), reported its operational result for 2020 which was hit by the pandemic. Chief executive Santisuk Klongchaiya said TAA carried 9.49 million passengers with an average load factor of 75%, with a net loss of 4.76 billion baht and total revenue of 16.3 billion.