People rushed to book hotels during the first day of the latest phase of the hotel subsidy programme, with 112,876 room nights reserved out of 560,000 available under the scheme within six hours.
Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the value of transactions during the first six hours of availability on Tuesday reached 443 million baht from 112,876 room nights.
Of the total amount, 60% or 273 million baht was paid by the purchaser and 170 million baht (40%) came from the government subsidy.
He said the rate of bookings was faster than predicted, reaching an average of 300 bookings per minute.
The volume of bookings confirmed there is pent-up demand for the next 1-2 months as well as strong purchasing power, said Mr Yuthasak.
He said the strong demand was partially because of an easing in Covid-19 infections, which encouraged locals to plan leisure trips or visit their hometown during the Songkran holiday in April.
The 500 hotels added for the fifth phase of the scheme provides travellers with greater choice, said Mr Yuthasak, while the short duration (ending in April) and limited number of privileges, at less than a million, accelerated people's purchases.
He said even though key destinations such as Chiang Mai and Bangkok have high levels of air pollution at the moment, bookings for those destinations were strong as tourists haven't postponed or cancelled their trips.
The government started the first phase of the subsidy programme called "We Travel Together" in July 2020 in a bid to stimulate domestic consumption as borders were closed because of the pandemic.
The four previous phases of the scheme had a total budget of 27 billion baht for 11.5 million room nights, which generated more than 49 billion baht for the local economy.
The fifth phase was allocated a budget of 2 billion baht and is expected to generate direct income tallying 9.2 billion baht.
The overall economic impact from all phases of the scheme is estimated to total 58.6 billion baht.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, 15.8 million domestic trips were made in January this year, comprising both overnight and one-day trips, representing an increase of 65% over the corresponding period last year.
Revenue for the period from local tourists rose 47.3% to 70 million baht.
Bangkok secured the largest number of visitors at 2.7 million, followed by Chon Buri (1.4 million), Kanchanaburi (1.3 million), Prachuap Khiri Khan (1 million) and Phetchaburi (950,890).