Tourists leave cheap packages on the shelf
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Tourists leave cheap packages on the shelf

Thais look for quality experiences instead

Tourists walk through the departures hall at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Tourists walk through the departures hall at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Outbound tour groups from Thailand have not been enticed by cheaper packages as most current outbound travellers have high purchasing power and are looking for quality packages.

Widespread price dumping for package tours was rampant for South Korea, Macau and Italy, prompting state crackdowns against these enterprises.

Chotechuang Soorangura, vice-president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said the cheaper packages targeting Thai tourists are not as concerning as in the past because outbound tour groups have shifted to the quality market, which looks for premium services.

During the economic slowdown, those wanting to travel abroad are high-spending tourists as travel costs have steadily increased to at least 30% higher than before the pandemic, he said.

Mr Chotechuang said price-dumping strategies have been common in the tourism industry for decades and will continue as an option for those with a limited budget or new travellers.

Prior to the pandemic, popular destinations for cheap tour packages included Macau, Hong Kong and South Korea, where tourists were forced to buy products from specific stores, such as jewellery and snacks.

While some tourists were unaware of these conditions before travelling, some were aware of the conditions, but still chose the package because of the cheap price, he said.

However, Mr Chotechuang said most outbound tour packages have adapted since the pandemic.

The mandatory shopping scheme is still in place for some packages, but the shops offer better services and products, he said.

For instance, many Taiwanese pineapple cake stores offer museum-like experiences, enticing customers to spend via storytelling strategies.

"There are fewer companies who employ the old tactics of forcing product sales, but we still hear about some. This is a critical concern that requires a crackdown," said Mr Chotechuang.

Kriangphon Piyaekchai, vice-president of TTAA, said Thai travellers are more aware when purchasing tour packages and regularly check tour operators' credibility before deciding.

More than 1,000 tour members in the association are monitoring price dumping and screening suspicious packages, he said.

Mr Kriangphon said sometimes it is difficult to track price-dumping packages that use online travel platforms to lure tourists.

The authorities should educate customers and help them book tour packages with reliable service providers, he said.

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