TAT looks to short-haul markets
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TAT looks to short-haul markets

International passengers prepare to check in at Suvarnabhumi airport on Feb 27, 2022.  (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul, Bangkok Post)
International passengers prepare to check in at Suvarnabhumi airport on Feb 27, 2022.  (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul, Bangkok Post)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) aims to attract at least 1.5 million tourists from short-haul destinations to compensate for the Chinese market by teaming up with airlines to spur demand.

The current situation in East Asia has made it impossible to generate demand, unlike more promising markets such as Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australia, said Thanet Phetsuwan, TAT deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific.

Assuming that travel rules in the region are eased and tourists from Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and Singapore can travel without quarantine on their return, Thailand should gain 800,000 tourists this year from Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, an air travel bubble with India is to become effective as 12 airlines from both countries are ready to operate from this month.

He said Indian travel agents already launched sales and marketing for trips to Thailand.

TAT estimated around 500,000 Indian travellers will visit Thailand this year based on 70% airline capacity.

Meanwhile, Australia is another potential market as Thai Airways and Qantas connect cities in the two countries.

The agency targets attracting 200,000 tourists, particularly during the Easter holidays.

"Some 1.5 million tourists from short-haul markets are within our reach, but we still want to have at least 5 million arrivals from overall 10 million this year. However, the target will be revised in the second half after we follow developments in East Asia," Mr Thanet said.

If China eases travel rules by the third quarter, Japanese tourists start to visit Thailand during the golden week or the virus situation in South Korea improves, there will be more pent-up demand to visit Thailand.

Nearby countries might not be directly impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but higher oil prices triggered by political unrest will push up airfares, he said.

On Wednesday, the TAT signed a letter of intent with Thai Vietjet (TVJ) for one year to generate demand in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam and Cambodia.

There will be joint promotions for special packages to Thailand from March with approximately 20,000 packages to be sold in the next two to three months.

Mr Thanet said the TAT continues to create partnership with airlines, including Thai AirAsia which will operate international flights to Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia this month, plus the Cambodia route that already started.

Woranate Laprabang, TVJ chief executive, said the key factors to attract tourists are the relaxation of travel rules, the number of new Covid cases and appealing promotional campaigns.

TVJ will resume the Bangkok - Danang route from March 27 with three flights a week, while the Bangkok - Phnom Penh route will start from March 16.

At present, the airline also flies from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City with six flights per week.

He said the next possible destinations are Singapore in May, Fukuoka in June, Taipei in July and Ahmedabad around mid-2022.

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