Dusit urges emphasis on quality tours

Dusit urges emphasis on quality tours

Firms should turn to high-value products

Tourists wave from an electric hop-on hop-off tour bus in Sukhothai Historical Park. Thailand's domestic tourism market is expected to resume in the second quarter this year, driven by the Songkran festival in April. AFP
Tourists wave from an electric hop-on hop-off tour bus in Sukhothai Historical Park. Thailand's domestic tourism market is expected to resume in the second quarter this year, driven by the Songkran festival in April. AFP

Thailand should not expect a return to 40 million foreign tourist arrivals in the post-pandemic period, instead focusing on elevating the quality of tourism and preserving revenue for the local industry, according to Dusit International.

Suphajee Suthumpun, group chief executive of Dusit International, said after the global pandemic subsides, Thailand should emphasise improving the tourism industry's quality over quantity, offering potential products that can attract higher spending.

"If we look at the data for inbound travellers during the pre-pandemic era, average expenditure was not high as most stayed for 4-5 days per trip," she said.

"Instead of hoping for an influx of tourists, Thailand can generate the same revenue but with fewer arrivals if it turns to more high-value tourism products."

Mrs Suphajee said the level of 40 million tourists posted in 2019 may not be repeated as some markets are likely to take fewer trips, especially in the early stages of the resumption of global tourism.

"Business travellers may not bounce back to the same level as before, as now they are familiar with technology that enables them to cut back on travel," she said.

"They can execute their business plans from anywhere via online or virtual meetings."

International markets are predicted to return gradually in the third quarter this year in the best-case predictions, but more likely it will be the fourth quarter when entry restrictions are eased, said Mrs Suphajee, particularly the mandatory quarantine.

Travellers with specific purposes will be the first group to return, such as long-stay guests who seek medical and wellness treatments and business travellers who need to meet partners in person, she said.

Mrs Suphajee said although a number of hotels exited the market permanently, an oversupply is likely to overwhelm the market as long as the authorities fail to solve the problem of unlicensed hotels.

She said a lot of hotels suffered during the crisis because of intense competition.

Those that could not stay afloat were forced to sell their properties to foreign investors.

"This situation is problematic for our industry going forward," said Mrs Suphajee.

"When things get back to normal, a large portion of hotel revenue will leak outside the country, leaving only a small amount for hotel employees."

The domestic market will resume in the second quarter this year, driven by the Songkran festival in April, she said.

The country needs to remain watchful to avoid a fresh outbreak, keeping up health safety protocols during busy tourism periods, said Mrs Suphajee.

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