TAT banking on Malaysia
The cross-border market is the key to a quick recovery
As airfares surge, cross-border tourism is the key to a quick recovery, in line with the trend set by Malaysian tourists this year, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The agency expects 1.8 million arrivals from Malaysia this year, with more than 1 million registered as of Tuesday. This target means Malaysia is expected to be the No.1 market for inbound arrivals this year.
"Thanks to the lifting of land border controls between Thailand and Malaysia, the number of Malaysian tourists hit 1 million shortly within just five months," said Tanes Petsuwan, TAT deputy governor for Asia and South Pacific.
Thailand has become a weekend destination for Malaysian holidaymakers.
Mr Tanes said 70% of this market travelled to Thailand by land, either via bus, train, car or motorcycle, while 30% travelled by air.
As airline operations gathered pace, flights from Malaysia reached 62% of the pre-pandemic schedule in the fourth quarter.
According to the TAT, there are 23 daily flights to five key cities in Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai.
Overall capacity tallied 422,880 seats from seven airlines, with a 75% load factor.
Of the 7 million international visitors to Thailand as of Oct 20, there were 1.16 million Malaysians who generated 26.5 billion baht from an average length of stay of 4.9 days with spending of around 30,000 baht per trip.
Last Friday, the TAT hosted an event called "Amazing Thailand A Million Thanks to the Malaysians" at InterContinental Kuala Lumpur Hotel, inviting the tourism sector in Malaysia such as travel agents, bus operators and airlines to celebrate the 1-million tourists milestone.
Mr Tanes said the TAT will look for more high spenders by working with airlines to increase their share from this mode of transport from 30% to 35%.
Nongyao Jirundorn, director for Malaysia and Brunei at the TAT's Kuala Lumpur office, said incentive groups were also an emerging segment in the past three months, including those in insurance, pharmaceutical, gas and the electronics industry. She said incentive travellers could reach 40,000 by the end of this year.
Mr Tanes giving a keynote address at "Amazing Thailand A Million Thanks to the Malaysians" event organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
- Working with partners -
Some 65% of Malaysian tourists were independent travellers, while the group inclusive tour (GIT) market accounted for 35%.
TAT Kuala Lumpur is working with travel agents to support particular services, such as souvenirs, complimentary dinners, entertainment shows and cruise services to the GIT market.
Joseph Na, general manager of Quin Travel, a travel company focusing on the luxury and incentive market with tailor-made tours, said the company chose the Chaophraya Cruise services for their guests and gave souvenirs to customers via support from this scheme.
He said Quin Travel operates three-day trips to Bangkok, which range from 600-2,000 ringgit (4,800-16,000 baht) per day, excluding airfares.
Barathan Selladurai, sales manager at Kenyalang Travel and Tours, which offers cross-border bus tours to Hat Yai, said business is gradually recovering from Covid-19.
Earlier this year, Mr Selladurai said 70 Malaysian agents joined a business-to-business meeting with Thai agents in Hat Yai to continue their cooperation. The firm offers 2-3 trips per week, down from 10 before the pandemic, but at the same price of 600-1,000 ringgit (4,800-8,100 baht) per person for the three-day road trip.
He said tour bus routes are limited to Songkhla at the moment, so it would be better to see this rule being lifted to let travellers save costs and easily visit Trang, Krabi and Phuket.