Limited appetite for overseas excursions
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Limited appetite for overseas excursions

Travellers queue to check in with carriers at Don Mueang airport during the Songkran holiday last year. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Travellers queue to check in with carriers at Don Mueang airport during the Songkran holiday last year. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

While there were heavy bookings for April under the government's domestic hotel subsidy scheme, the number of outbound tourists during the Songkran holiday period remains low.

Charoen Wangananont, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said the subsidy scheme aimed to stimulate domestic travel during the Songkran holiday, but outbound travellers had already planned their trips and budget for the holiday before the government launched the subsidy programme.

Outbound tourism during April -- the peak season -- would be more sluggish than usual because of high travel costs, mainly attributed to expensive airfares, said Mr Charoen.

"We've started to see more travellers posting their photos on social media while travelling abroad, but the actual number remained limited and mostly concentrated on certain destinations, such as Japan," he said.

Mr Charoen said the recovery rate for Thailand's outbound market in April was just 30% of the corresponding period prior to Covid-19, with the prices of tour packages remaining 30% higher than normal.

For example, tour packages to Europe currently cost around 90,000-100,000 baht, compared to 60,000-70,000 baht prior to 2020.

Mr Charoen said nearby destinations in Southeast Asia, such as Laos or Vietnam, had attracted more large tour groups, thanks to their affordable prices of around 10,000 to 20,000 baht.

Meanwhile, South Korea, one of the most popular outbound destinations, still requires visitors to complete a K-ETA application, which has discouraged some tourists, he said.

As China recently resumed tourism visa applications, Mr Charoen said it would take several months to see a notable rebound, although many tour agents have started selling tour packages to the mainland.

Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, managing director of Quality Express, said his firm has started providing services for Chinese visa applications and selling tour packages, with the first trip scheduled for mid-April.

Mr Thanapol, who is also vice-president of TTAA, said he's confident of increasing demand among Thai tourists, particularly to popular destinations such as Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming.

However, he said the whole tourism industry is still plagued by a severe labour shortage, which has caused inconvenience in terms of services in Thailand and many destinations, particularly at airports.

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