Association of Domestic Travel eyes 75m domestic trips in 2021
The Association of Domestic Travel (ADT) hopes to tally 75 million domestic trips this year, using the government's stimulus package in the final quarter to spur tourism.
The government plans to resume two tourism stimulus packages in mid-September to pave the way for a domestic rebound in October, said ADT president Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn.
An additional 1 million room nights are expected to be added to the "We Travel Together" scheme, while "Tour Teaw Thai" subsidises 40% of tour packages of up to 5,000 baht for 1 million Thai tourists.
New infections appear to be waning in some provinces and tourists should choose low-risk provinces for travel, said Mr Thanapol.
Many tourism operators are looking forward to reaping a windfall from the stimulus campaigns to gain income as well as rehire staff, he said.
Mr Thanapol said people have been eager to travel since the third wave hit in April.
Local tourism activities over the last two months have been scarce because of lockdown restrictions.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, local tourists made 25.2 million trips from January to July, down 31.1%, generating 130 billion baht, a fall of 46.4% year-on-year.
The association forecasts 75 million domestic trips this year assuming the lockdown ends and stimulus packages support the market from October.
Restrictions against local travel remain an obstacle and must be eased to allow fully vaccinated tourists to take trips, he said.
"Financial aid is not enough to offset the economic fallout, but stimulus schemes can help move the tourism economy forward," Mr Thanapol said.
Nok Air chief executive Wutthiphum Jurangkool said every tourism-related operator would like state tourism schemes to continue as soon as the government makes a proper evaluation of Covid safety protocols.
If the country continues to record more than 10,000 new daily infections, locals might not travel, he said.
The government eased some lockdown measures starting this month, but it might take until mid-October to restore travel activities, said Mr Wutthiphum.
"New effective domestic stimulus programmes should be ready in November to stimulate more trips at the end of the year," he said.
Nok Air's passenger load factor in September is expected to hover at 40-60%, then struggle to reach 70% in the fourth quarter due to competition amid soft demand, said Mr Wutthiphum.