Association of Domestic Travel urges quick jabs

Association of Domestic Travel urges quick jabs

Lack of vaccinations hampers any tourism recovery effort

Local travellers wait for domestic flights at Don Mueang airport. The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported local tourists took 17.2 million domestic trips from January to March 2021.
Local travellers wait for domestic flights at Don Mueang airport. The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported local tourists took 17.2 million domestic trips from January to March 2021.

The Association of Domestic Travel (ADT) is urging the government to hasten the vaccination programme and deliver on tourism stimulus after a collapse of the domestic travel segment.

Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, ADT president, said vaccinations represent the ultimate solution to prevent a future outbreak, which also supports the growth of domestic tourism.

He said it will take until June at the earliest to gradually rebuild travel confidence, assuming daily infections are less than 500 cases.

Tourism stimulus schemes will play a key role in restoring travel sentiment, said Mr Thanapol. To maximise the benefit of the planned "Tour Teaw Thai" (Travel around Thailand) scheme, which offers 1 million tourists a 40% subsidy for tour packages during weekdays, the government should extend the eligible period to weekends, he said.

"The situation has drastically changed. We have to stimulate tourism any way possible once it's safe to travel," Mr Thanapol said.

The new phase of a hotel subsidy called "We Travel Together" adds 2 million room nights, which is scheduled to help the market from May 17.

Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said if the infection rate slows in May, the domestic market might be able to gain momentum in July.

He urged the two domestic tourism schemes to carry on with the planned schedules, even though sentiment has not yet recovered.

"Locals will make more trips when the virus subsides. With a reviving market, the industry won't have to lay off or permanently close down businesses," said Mr Chamnan.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported tourists took 17.2 million domestic trips from January to March, down 31.2% year-on-year, while tourism receipts dropped 51.1% to 92.6 billion baht.

The third wave of the pandemic is going to derail any domestic uptick, with high volatility this year until the country develops a significant vaccination pace, said Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, a hospitality consulting firm.

Domestic tourism alone cannot provide relief to hoteliers or staff as the root of the tourism stagnation is vaccine delays and the lack of effective policies, which has shattered confidence in the sector, he said.

"Mass vaccinations are the only way to reopen to a larger international market," Mr Barnett said.

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