Tour agents bullish on Taiwan

Tour agents bullish on Taiwan

Thai tourism operators present their products at an Association of Thai Travel Agents roadshow held in Taipei on Tuesday. (Photo supplied)
Thai tourism operators present their products at an Association of Thai Travel Agents roadshow held in Taipei on Tuesday. (Photo supplied)

The Taiwanese inbound market this year is expected to hit a new high of 1 million tourists, assuming the Thai government extends its visa-free scheme until year-end, as the market is among the fastest growing post-pandemic.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said even with late approval of visa exemption for Taiwanese visitors in November last year, the overall number of arrivals from the Taiwanese market to Thailand was recorded at around 724,000, almost matching the record set in 2019 of around 781,000 arrivals.

He said the Taiwanese market has great potential as the market has mostly been unfazed by the economic downturn like other markets in Northeast Asia. With the convenience provided via the visa exemption, this factor encouraged tourists to plan trips to Thailand and travel more often.

According to Taiwan's Directorate General of Budget, the country's annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth between 2016 and 2023 averaged 3.17%, above the global average during those years.

Mr Sisdivachr said the travel trend in this market had also changed from large tour groups to small private groups. They preferred to stay at four to five-star hotels and like to explore new experiences in the same way locals would, which helps stimulate income to areas beyond the main destinations.

"We can see Taiwanese demand shifting to other second-tier provinces or destinations, such as Kanchanaburi, Koh Chang in Trat and Koh Samet in Rayong, with the length of stay from five to eight days," he said.

To boost the market to 1 million, Atta hosted a roadshow in Taipei on Tuesday where 72 sellers from Thailand including hotels, tour agents and attractions connected with 300 local buyers in Taiwan. The event is co-hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Program Management Unit for Competitiveness.

Yeh Chu-lan, chairwoman of Taiwan Visitors Association, said there is still room to grow the tourism markets between two countries due to a reciprocal visa exemption, which enables tourists to travel freely.

Taiwan removed the visa requirement for Thais in August 2016, and has continued this policy until by extending the scheme annually since 2016.

She said there are 155 flights per week connecting two countries at present, with most passengers coming from Taiwan.

Ms Yeh said to strengthen tourism flows, the outbound market from Thailand should be promoted in parallel, particularly as demand from Thais has been growing since last year.

In 2023, Taiwan forecast 260,000 Thais to visit Taiwan, but the actual number exceeded that target significantly as around 340,000 Thai tourists had visited the country by year-end.

Adith Chairattananon, honorary secretary-general of Atta, said Taiwanese visitors spent around 5,000 baht per day and have an average spending per trip of more than 40,000 baht.

In terms of expenditure per head, this market is not different from mainland China, and the Taiwanese still have purchasing power for overseas trips.

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