Recovery held back by few flights

Recovery held back by few flights

Thai Airways International jets are visible from the passenger terminal of Suvarnabhumi airport on Sept 1. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Thai Airways International jets are visible from the passenger terminal of Suvarnabhumi airport on Sept 1. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

With international flights reaching only 40% of pre-pandemic levels, Thai tourism must wait for a clearer outlook, particularly with the government budget running dry, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said competition in the upcoming high season will be intense as more countries will reopen with fewer restrictions, particularly those struggling economically, eager to stimulate spending via the international tourism market.

He said the overall seat capacity to Thailand in August was around 40% of pre-Covid levels, a rate that has gradually increased from 30% over the previous two months.

Mr Yuthasak said the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has to wait until Sept 7 to see a complete winter schedule, with CAAT expecting October-December seat capacity to rise to 50% of pre-pandemic levels.

However, the tourism industry is likely to see no more financial stimulus as the government is running out of funds. A 1-billion-baht tourism stimulus proposal is still waiting for approval from the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA).

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said the government will allocate the funds for the proposed scheme at the next CESA meeting.

The government reportedly only has 5 billion baht left in its central budget, which must be reserved for unexpected disasters.

The domestic market will also have to depend on organic growth in the final quarter as the 1.5-million-room "We Travel Together" hotel subsidy scheme has been exhausted and the government will not extend it, Mr Yuthasak said.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said only luxury hotels are seeing strong forward bookings for the upcoming high season, particularly those situated in areas with high demand, such as along the Chao Phraya River. "Many hotels only partially reopened as guest numbers remain weak," she said.

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