Hopes high for influx of Indian visitors to Pattaya
Tourism operators in Pattaya hope Indian travellers can provide some relief during the upcoming low season as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) prepares marketing plans for the South Asian country, in line with the Air Travel Bubble (ATB) agreement.
Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said there will be pent-up demand because of the lack of commercial flights during the outbreak, yet operators have to wait and see how many airlines will return to the skies, particularly low-cost carriers that can generate more volume.
India remains one of the few short-haul markets that does not require quarantine upon return.
Mr Thanet said new registrations under the revised Test & Go scheme on Feb 1 are slower than the first phase last year as it is almost the end of high season.
The recent surge in cases has also affected domestic travel sentiment despite a stimulus campaign, while meetings and seminars in Pattaya from state agencies have been put off.
Thanet Phetsuwan, TAT deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific, said the country had hosted so-called familiarisation trips from India to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui from Feb 15-22.
More familiarisation trips and wedding symposiums are scheduled for next month.
The TAT plans to participate in the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange 2022, an annual trade fair on April 18-21 in New Delhi, to keep Thailand as a preferred destination for the Indian market.
After the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration approved a proposal on the ATB, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has been working on time slots before submitting it to the Cabinet, then sending an official letter via the Royal Thai Embassy in New Delhi to India's Ministry of External Affairs.
The Indian government has also implemented relaxations on guidelines for international arrivals, effective on Feb 14, including using vaccine certificates instead of a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival.
Mr Thanet said Indian tourists via ATB may arrive in late April.
The TAT aims to attract at least 500,000 Indian tourists this fiscal year, which ends in September.