Stronger air traffic in the summer, with a projection of more than 98,000 flights, should help each long-haul market to exceed 1 million visitors by the end of this year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said 98,625 flights scheduled between April and October exceeded the flight capacity of the previous cool season.
Typically the cool season is the busiest period of the year, particularly for long-haul markets.
He said these figures helped confirm that even though the average airfare remained considerably higher than before Covid-19, tourism demand still kept growing from the final quarter of last year and first quarter of this year.
"The number of flights in the past winter schedule resumed to just 60-70% of the corresponding period in 2019. However, the sign for summer was more positive as the resumption rate has improved to 70-80% of 2019's summer schedule," said Mr Siripakorn.
With the goal to help carriers boost the average load factor to 80%, he said the agency is preparing to extend cooperation with domestic airlines to create more seamless connectivity with international airlines.
He said many international carriers have expressed interest in a code-share partnership with airlines in Thailand to enable passengers to be issued tickets just one time and connect without having to buy separate domestic tickets upon arrival.
The TAT will also sign a letter of intent with Eva Air to strengthen tourism promotional plans via the extensive global network of the airline, which has the potential to bring more direct flights from long-haul markets to Thailand.
Mr Siripakorn said TAT's eight offices in Europe and the Middle East and three offices in the US were tasked with the mission to bring at least 1 million travellers each to Thailand this year, and more seat capacity will help them achieve that target.
In 2019, most offices in Europe surpassed that mark, with the London and Paris offices securing more than 1.2 million tourists each, while the Moscow office brought more than 1.5 million Russians and visitors from the Commonwealth of Independent States to Thailand.
The offices in Rome, Stockholm, Prague and Dubai which have a smaller market size will be paired to strengthen promotions. Each pair of offices should reach the target of 1 million tourists by the end of this year as well.
He said if those offices can recover by only 80%, it would be enough to contribute 40% revenue to Thai tourism this year.
Some markets even have high potential to match the same level in 2019, such as Russia which had already tallied 591,002 travellers as of April 5. This market contributed 1.48 million tourists in 2019.
Mr Siripakorn, one of two contenders for the new TAT governor, said he is confident his 33-year experience with the agency could help steer the industry to a full recovery from the pandemic's impact.