Outbound travel on the upswing

Outbound travel on the upswing

The Thai Agents Association (TTAA) says outbound travel remains healthy this year even though domestic and inbound tours have been hurt by political turmoil.

Charoen Wangananont, the association's president, said the weak US dollar and euro and higher airfares for local flights from Thai Airways International are encouraging more Thai tourists to consider going abroad, if only to escape local tensions for a while.

The association forecasts that the number of total outbound travellers overseas, including business travellers, will increase to 5.5 million with revenue of 250 billion baht this year, up from the last year's figure of 4 million and revenue of 180 billion baht.

"Actually, we think the revenue figure may be higher than expected if the global economy clearly recovers in the second half of the year," Mr Charoen said.

In the first four months of 2010, tourists travelling abroad increased 15% year-on-year. The TTAA expected the figure will rise by 20% in the low season (May-October) because most corporate customers prefer to travel in this period, particularly May and June.

"Because of the political unrest, many locals prefer to travel abroad to release their stress. Popular destinations are Japan, Korea and Hong Kong. The weak euro has also made outbound tours to Europe more popular," he said.

Although many airlines have cut their flights to Thailand, especially charters, seats on regular flights will be available, he noted.

In the second half, the TTAA plans to talk with the Indian Embassy and the government of India to promote Thailand as a hub of Buddhist tourism in Asia Pacific. The association will organise events to promote Buddhist destinations and offer packages on Buddhism-oriented routes.

The first package tours will be launched before Buddhist Lent, aimed at locals and those in neighbouring countries.

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