Domestic travel rises above early forecasts
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Domestic travel rises above early forecasts

A bird's eye view of Koh Tao in Surat Thani shows lush green forests and crystal-clear seawater. (TAT Photo)
A bird's eye view of Koh Tao in Surat Thani shows lush green forests and crystal-clear seawater. (TAT Photo)

Travellers made 200 million domestic trips in the first 10 months of this year, less than the 222 million in 2019 but up on the 160 million trips projected by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), according to a government spokesman.

The spokesman, Anucha Burapachaisri, said on Friday the TAT would revise its estimate for expected domestic trips made this year, and the figures would probably exceed pre-Covid levels.

The TAT expects revenue from domestic tourism this year will reach 800 billion baht, higher than its previous estimate of 656 billion baht, Mr Anucha said.

"Demand for domestic trips is rising, especially for family vacations and meetings ... This is a key factor for the revival of the tourism sector after the Covid-19 crisis," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, hotel bookings are hitting 90% around the New Year period and early next year at the country's main tourist locations, with calls being made to ramp up flights to accommodate more tourists.

Brighter prospects are on the horizon, with the tourism industry recording a solid recovery from the pandemic, according to local tourism and hospitality businesses.

Among the leading drivers in the recovery effort are Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in Surat Thani and Chiang Mai.

The former three islands are seeing hotel vacancy rates climb close to 90% in the lead-up to the New Year and early next year, said Ratchaporn Poolsawad, chairman of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui.

The country is capitalising on the easing of the pandemic and the full reopening of borders, which has led to a gradual resumption of air travel that coincides with the onset of the high tourism season, he added.

At the same time, a number of hotels and accommodations are being renovated on the three islands in preparation for the large tourist turnout expected in the coming weeks, Mr Ratchaporn said.

"In terms of bookings, there's nothing to be concerned about. It's sunshine for Koh Samui all the way from now until the first quarter of next year," he said.

The main obstacle is the limited flights serving Thailand, as well as those running from Bangkok to Koh Samui, which is the main gateway to Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Mr Ratchaporn said more flights were needed, or bigger planes.

The association chairman said promotional campaigns were underway to heighten the islands' appeal, such as World Cup-inspired activities and menus at some eateries.

Chiang Mai reported a healthy occupancy rate, with bookings expected to hit 90% closer to the New Year.

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