The Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) is anticipating growth of the outbound tourism market after Hong Kong became the latest destination to allow tour groups to visit with fewer restrictions.
The TTAA predicted pent-up demand from Thai tourists will lead to more travel through the first quarter of next year.
The Hong Kong government is allowing inbound tour groups travelling with licensed travel agents and pre-registered itineraries to enter designated tourist attractions, including theme parks, museums and temples, as well as dining in designated catering areas for those holding the Amber Code of the Vaccine Pass, starting from this month.
The previous 0+3 arrangement restricted inbound tourists from visiting places such as temples or dine-in restaurants for the first three days after arrival.
Chotechuang Soorangura, vice-president of the TTAA, said this relaxation makes it convenient for tour operators wanting to conduct marketing.
In the past month, a small number of tour groups visited Hong Kong because of the restrictions, he said. Under the previous measures, they were able to order only takeout meals from restaurants, which is inconvenient for tourists.
Mr Chotechuang said the recent loosening would benefit tourists who plan to visit Hong Kong. Outbound demand this high season should be healthy, particularly for those wanting to visit famous temples on the islands to wish for good fortune, he said.
"Hong Kong is famous for spiritual tours among Thai travellers. Many of our customers said they want to wipe out the bad luck from Covid-19," said Mr Chotechuang.
However, concern remains about flight capacity between Thailand and Hong Kong. Even though Hong Kong tourists have started coming back to Thailand since mandatory quarantine was lifted in September, the number of flights has not yet fully resumed.
He said workers in the Hong Kong tourism industry, such as those at hotels, might not be as prepared as their peers in Thailand.
In addition to the resumption of travel between Thailand and Hong Kong, travel exchanges with China could happen in the first quarter next year, but with very limited areas such as Zhuhai, which is close to Macau and Hong Kong in the Greater Bay Area, said Mr Chotechuang. Last month, Beijing gradually eased travel restrictions within the Greater Bay Area, allowing mainland residents to travel to Macau using an online visa system rather than in-person applications.