'Sell premium' - Thailand discourages discounts, wants high value tourists

'Sell premium' - Thailand discourages discounts, wants high value tourists

Travellers walk past the arrival gates at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday. (AFP photo)
Travellers walk past the arrival gates at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday. (AFP photo)

Thailand's hotels, businesses and private hospitals should refrain from offering big discounts to lure tourists and focus instead on raising the country's value as a premium travel destination, Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday.

Thailand has received about 2 million foreign visitors in the first six months of this year, a steady revival after its tourism industry almost collapsed due to the pandemic and more than 18 months of complex and costly entry requirements.

"We cannot let people come to Thailand and stay because it's cheap," Mr Anutin said at the Thailand Moving Together event at Suvarnabhumi airport to promote tourism.

"Instead they should say 'because it works, it's reasonable', that's where we can increase value," he said, echoing remarks by Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

Mr Anutin likened the approach to that of luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton.

"Hold your ground. Sell premium. The more expensive, the more customers," he said. "Otherwise Louis Vuitton wouldn't have any sales."

One of Asia's most popular travel destinations, Thailand welcomed a record of nearly 40 million visitors in pre-pandemic 2019, who spent 1.91 trillion baht, equivalent to 11% of gross domestic product.

Arrivals slumped to 6.7 million the following year, and down to 428,000 in 2021, despite calibrated moves to end quarantine requirements. It is forecasting 10 million foreign arrivals in 2022.

Earlier this year, the goverment launched a long-term visa programme for wealthy foreigners and skilled workers, sticking to its plan to lure high-spending visitors, despite major jobs and business losses in tourism during the pandemic. 

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