Outbound travel set for Lunar New Year dip

Outbound travel set for Lunar New Year dip

Market to rebound in March if fares decline

Outbound travel is expected to slow during Chinese New Year as people spent their travel budget during the New Year holiday, with the market reviving in late March if airfares dip.

Chotechuang Soorangura, vice-president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said outbound travel should rebound in March and April, mostly driven by the long holiday during the Songkran festival and more aircraft seats becoming available in the market, which would consequently help reduce airfares.

Mr Chotechuang said Japan continued to be the most popular destination among Thai tourists in the first quarter, despite an increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

He said Thai tourists perceive Japan as being a hygienic environment, as most locals still wear face masks, shops still provide alcohol sanitiser and there are still partitions between customers in restaurants.

He said Thai travellers tend to travel individually or purchase a tour package with an option to extend the return flight for a longer stay in Japan.

However, challenges remain with expensive airfares and limited seats in certain regions of the country, particularly Fukuoka and Tokyo. The situation was not as severe in other regions, though, such as Hokkaido and Sendai.

The second and third most popular destinations among Thais during the first quarter are Hong Kong and Europe, said Mr Chotechuang.

Hong Kong came back stronger between the end of last year and the beginning of this year as the local government lifted travel restrictions at the right time as tourists were seeking destinations related to religion in order to make their New Year wishes.

Meanwhile, European countries are expected to gain momentum between March and April due to good weather and airfares being 10-15% lower than in the summer, as well as these countries providing hassle-free travel as they welcome arrivals from Thailand without Covid-19 restrictions.

The TTAA is organising the 28th Thai International Travel Fair 2023 next month, hosting tourism operators and national tourism organisations from countries that want to tap into the Thai market by providing convenient travel without Covid curbs, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.

The event will feature 300 operators and is expected to attract 200,000 visitors which would help generate at least 200 million baht, said Charoen Wangananont, president of the TTAA.

He said the scale of the event remains relatively small when compared to before the pandemic when more than 900 exhibitors took part.

Mr Chotechuang said outbound tour operators are in the early stage of a recovery and are mostly focusing on the wholesale market rather than the retail market

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