Domestic operators see barriers to revenue target

Domestic operators see barriers to revenue target

Some tourists stop for a break on the Chao Phraya Skypark bridge in Bangkok. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Some tourists stop for a break on the Chao Phraya Skypark bridge in Bangkok. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Domestic tourism operators foresee obstacles to increasing revenue to reach the government's goal of 1.08 trillion baht this year, citing high travel costs and weak flight capacity, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

The TAT set a target of 200 million trips in the domestic market this year, generating revenue of 1.08 trillion baht, on a par with levels in 2019.

Last year, domestic tourists accounted for 185 million trips generating more than 900 billion baht.

"To mark a full recovery, seat capacity on flights has to improve to 46.5 million from 36.5 million recorded last year, while economic conditions should be more upbeat than in 2023," said Somradee Chitchong, deputy governor for domestic marketing at TAT.

Ms Somradee said the market is challenged this year by costlier airfares, especially for last-minute bookings, in addition to the country's delayed fiscal budget.

In light of the delayed fiscal budget, the domestic market was allocated only 400 million baht from the proposed budget of 1.19 billion baht, with the remainder expected to arrive in May this year, she said.

Moreover, cross-regional flights have not fully resumed, such as those connecting the Northeast of Thailand with the South.

Chiang Mai still serves as a hub, with 18 cross-regional flights per week connecting the northern city to Krabi, Phuket, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen, Hua Hin, U-Tapao airport in Chon Buri, Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani.

Ms Somradee said many airlines shifted aircraft in their fleet to international flights in a bid to attract foreign tourists.

She said if the TAT received a sufficient budget, it could incentivise airlines to offer promotions to encourage more domestic tourists to travel.

However, with a limited budget at present, the agency has to focus on working with 12 partners from the public and private sectors to promote domestic tourism among the 15 million customers in their databases, said Ms Somradee.

Referring to the reciprocal visa-free scheme between Thailand and China, she said it is unlikely to affect domestic tourism.

She said the travel industry typically requires tourists from each country involved to secure mutual benefits.

Domestic spending is roughly 4,000 baht per trip, below the level recorded in 2019, according to TAT estimates.

Ms Somradee said following the pandemic, Thai tourists are travelling more frequently but spending less per trip, especially in terms of shopping as many Thais prefer to buy products via online platforms.

"With pent-up demand expected to dry up this year, we should have more quality products to lure higher spending and develop sustainable programmes to cater to changing demand as people are looking for environmentally friendly tourism," she said.

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