Domestic tourism receipts for the first quarter this year are expected to tally 135 billion baht from 29.7 million trips, but the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is still aiming for 656 billion baht in revenue from the segment for the entire year.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said total domestic revenue in the first three months surged 53% year-on-year from 29.7 million trips, an increase of 73%, mainly attributed to loosening curbs to stem Covid-19 and a higher vaccination rate.
However, the TAT still set an ambitious target of 160 million local trips generating 656 billion baht this year as it will try to encourage 52% of locals who remain hesitant about travel to venture out if they are vaccinated with a booster shot.
"According to our survey, those who are still reluctant to travel made up 52% of the population, while another 11% want to avoid domestic trips as they are worried about the virus. We have to convince them to travel by building up their confidence about safety and travel," said Mr Yuthasak.
The agency is promoting the "Travel with Care" tourism concept by inviting well-known actress Davika Hoorne, who has 15 million followers on social media, to stimulate the market.
He said the target of 656 billion baht this year is a challenge, though another 22 million trips are expected in the second quarter, typically considered the low season, generating 105 billion baht.
Mr Yuthasak said the domestic market will see slow growth this year and remain a far cry from pre-Covid levels as people remain concerned about the Omicron variant and the economy, which both directly impact local consumption.
He said if Thailand's rate for booster shots reaches 70% and economic activities and inter-provincial travel can run without restrictions, there are a lot more opportunities to boost the market in the second half of the year.
Mr Yuthasak said the international market should see positive developments in the second half, particularly from Malaysia, Laos and South Korea, which loosened travel restrictions to allow more free travel without quarantine.
Yesterday the TAT discussed with the South Korean ambassador cooperation on tourism after South Korea decided to allow tourists from Thailand to visit from April. The South Korean market totalled 1.5 million arrivals prior to the pandemic, while the number of Thais visiting that country numbered 500,000.