TAT cautiously upbeat on domestic trips

TAT cautiously upbeat on domestic trips

Visitors take in the sights and pose for snaps in front of Wat Ban Rai, also known as the Elephant Temple, in Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo: Sarot Meksophawannakul)
Visitors take in the sights and pose for snaps in front of Wat Ban Rai, also known as the Elephant Temple, in Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo: Sarot Meksophawannakul)

Inflation and volatile oil prices remain the key factors hitting domestic trips, despite positive travel sentiment during the five-day weekend for government employees, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

"As viral infections subside and people learn to live with Covid-19, domestic tourism for the upcoming weekend is quite strong, mostly driven by short-haul destinations reachable by car, followed by air travel and other public transport," said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

However, Thais are slashing their travel budgets and plan to spend less on souvenirs because of soaring inflation and oil prices. These are the most critical factors which domestic tourists are considering when planning trips, Mr Yuthasak said.

The number of domestic trips is expected to reach 3.7 million during Asarnha Bucha Day and the start of Buddhist Lent on July 13-17, generating 14.3 billion baht.

The hotel occupancy rate across Thailand is projected to be 53%, with provinces in the central and eastern region notching the highest occupancy at 64% and 62%, respectively.

Popular destinations other than Bangkok include Chon Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Rayong and Saraburi.

Mr Yuthasak said Nakhon Nayok, a second-tier province rich in natural resources, had seen interest from domestic tourists, while Phuket was a preferred beach destination amongst those with a high purchasing power.

The average occupancy rate for hotels in Bangkok stands at only 42%, the lowest compared with other major provinces.

Northeastern Thailand, where many provinces host major cultural events to celebrate the beginning of Buddhist Lent, is the only long-haul region to have secured a high occupancy rate of 63%, as local travellers also use this opportunity to visit family.

According to online word cloud data, specific words that Thais mentioned the most were "Buddhist Lent" and "making merit", which mean they still plan to take domestic trips and visit religious sites to make merit.

The TAT is supporting events to boost domestic trips during this holiday, such as cultural events in Phayao, Lamphun and Ubon Ratchathani.

The agency is also supporting entertainment at the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said Bangkok hotels will not benefit much from the long holiday as people preferred to stay in hotels just outside the city instead.

Private sector workers might not have a long holiday like government employees, so their trips will be mostly to nearby provinces.

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