Little impact from weak forex on inbound tourism

Little impact from weak forex on inbound tourism

Tourists walk at the beach in Phuket, Thailand March 8, 2022. (Reuters photo)
Tourists walk at the beach in Phuket, Thailand March 8, 2022. (Reuters photo)

The global decline in currencies has not had a significant impact on Thailand's inbound market as the rates were comparable with a weakened baht, while those ready to travel are mostly high-income earners.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said currency fluctuations did not have an impact on the tourism industry since travellers tended to make decisions based on demand and the experiences they expect, instead of worrying about the currency exchange.

As the US Federal Reserve hiked rates, the US dollar continued to strengthen against other currencies, including the baht, the euro and the rupee.

The pound sterling also recently tumbled to a record low at US$1.04 this week, after the UK government announced a historic tax cut worth £45 billion.

This situation would only affect domestic consumption within their countries, said Mr Yuthasak.

He said the weak baht might lure tourists who have US dollars to spend more in Thailand, given that they would get more value with the same amount of money.

"Now many currencies are weakening, so there's no concern yet," said Mr Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association (THA).

He said this situation is different from Russia's financial crisis in 2014 when hoteliers lost a number of Russian travellers and had to discount room rates for this market as the ruble declined sharply.

Mr Suksit said a survey by the THA's southern chapter showed an average occupancy rate of 40% in Phuket, and more than 30% in Trang, Krabi and Phangnga.

Meanwhile, the average occupancy in Hat Yai surged to 60-70%, thanks to cross-border tourists from Malaysia.

Mr Suksit said four- and five-star hotels reported the most outstanding performance as they upgraded room rates to the same level as 2019, mainly because their clients were those with high purchasing power unfazed by the global economy.

This segment can travel internationally amid high inflation and more expensive airfares.

However, mid-scale hotels and lower still have to offer discounts of around 20-30% to sustain demand from the mass market.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said as many currencies are riding on the same trend as the baht, there is no difference in travel costs, except for travellers from the US.

As of Sept 25, Thailand had 5.7 million international tourists, led by Malaysians (925,623) and Indians (545,892).

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