Effort to unlock other tourism markets
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Effort to unlock other tourism markets

Passengers step off a flight and make their way through the Satellite 1 (SAT-1) terminal which had its soft opening on Sept 28. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Passengers step off a flight and make their way through the Satellite 1 (SAT-1) terminal which had its soft opening on Sept 28. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Tourism authorities should work to mitigate the short-term impact of the shooting at a Bangkok mall this week by pivoting to other potential markets less affected by the news to keep a steady flow of arrivals during high season, according to the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta).

Atta president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said news reports on the shooting at Siam Paragon had spread in many countries, but at differing levels.

Atta finished a roadshow in Mumbai this week and the association monitored feedback from the Indian market.

The group found there were less concerns among Indians about the shooting than from the Chinese market.

He said while Indian tourists were not granted visa exemptions like the Chinese and Kazakhs, the flow of tourists from that country remains stable and has great potential for next year.

As of Oct 1, the Indian market was ranked fourth in terms of arrivals to Thailand with 1.16 million, behind Malaysia, China and South Korea.

The tourism sector believes the most critical obstacle for India is not visa requirements, but rather the limited aviation rights that restrict the number of seats, said Mr Sisdivachr.

Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, said forward bookings from the Chinese market have not dropped significantly this week, partly because the Chinese have been slow to return to Phuket.

Based on direct flights to the island the first nine months this year, Russia was ranked No.1 with 506,244 arrivals, exceeding the 443,821 the nation recorded in the corresponding period of 2019.

The Chinese market was No.2, but had a recovery rate of only 24% with 370,899 arrivals flying direct to Phuket, which was the lowest among the Indian, Australian and UK markets, which tallied recovery rates of 80%, 88% and 94%, respectively.

Mr Suksit said hotel operators in Phuket believe the impact of the shooting incident will not be as severe as the boat accident in Phuket in July 2018, which caused the deaths of more than 40 Chinese tourists.

It took roughly three months to restore tourism confidence among the Chinese in 2018, he said.

The shooting might not affect Phuket as much as Bangkok, with many Chinese tourists choosing the capital as their main destination during their travels, said Mr Suksit.

He said he agrees with Atta that the government should look to other markets unfazed by the incident, of which India holds the highest potential for Phuket as well as other provinces.

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