India targeted as new arrivals market
Around 500,000 Indian tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year generating revenue of 24 billion baht, supported by the national carrier Thai Airways International after an air travel bubble (ATB) agreement was concluded in March.
"India is an important market to offset the loss of Chinese tourists. It has a sizeable population and a large number of passport holders," said Thanet Phetsuwan, deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The TAT's target for Indian arrivals is 500,000 this year, with an average load factor of 70% on every airline.
Mr Thanet said there have been 600 Indian arrivals per day since the ATB started last month.
The TAT signed a letter of intent with Thai Airways and Thai Smile Airways, a wholly owned subsidiary of Thai Airways, to boost this market.
The country might see at least 13,000 Indians per month via these two carriers, he said. The overall number from all airlines should increase to 80,000 from May, said Mr Thanet.
Meanwhile, the TAT will continue to promote marketing campaigns using influencers to attract the millennial segment, along with joint promotions targeting the luxury segment, he said.
The agency also plans to lead private sector tourism operators to join the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange 2022 during May 18-20 in New Delhi.
Mr Thanet said there are 200 Indian wedding groups with around 100 guests per group planning ceremonies in Thailand starting from this month. Each wedding has an average expenditure of at least 5 million baht per trip.
Nond Kalinta, Thai Airways' chief commercial officer, said its summer schedule has 34 international routes, accounting for roughly 60% of its operations in 2019.
In terms of India, Thai Airways offers direct flights to New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, while Thai Smile Airways is scheduled to start connections with Kolkata from April 11, with a triangular route, Bangkok-Phuket-Mumbai, set to commence tomorrow.
Mr Nond said the cabin factor for key cities like New Delhi was 60-65% in April, up from 20-30% previously, as there has been growing pent-up demand. Some Indian tourists also booked connecting flights from Bangkok to Melbourne. The airline plans to add more frequent flights to this route from four flights per week at present.
He said the cabin factor in the second and third quarters is expected to reach 50-60%, then gradually rise to 75% in the fourth quarter.
Cargo service has high potential as its revenue has already soared 30% above the level tallied before the pandemic, said Mr Nond.