BANGKOK, 15 August 2017: Thai Travel Agents Association estimates Thais travel overseas will reach 8.5 million visits by this the end of this year.
TTAA’s president, Suparerk Soorangura, told TTR Weekly that the number of Thais make overseas trips this year will continue to grow from 7.9 million visits last year.
TTAA’s members are made up of tour companies that sell holiday packages to overseas destinations.
“The country outbound sector is very positive… wealthy Thais still travel overseas, but the middle class market is also expanding…the business is very competive for tourism operators and airlines who have to come up with innovative programmes”
He said: “Japan will continue to be a top destination for Thai travellers, which is expected to reach 1 million this year.”
According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, 901,525 Thais travelled to Japan, last year, an increase of 13.2% from 2015.
But India is expanding mainly on the back of more low-cost airlines serving Indian destinations from Thailand. This year should see a strong increase from the Thai market.
“Taiwan will continue to be the second most popular destination after Japan,” he noted.
Around 350,000 Thais will travel to Taiwan a massive increase when compared with the average 100,000 visits annually over the past few years.
“Taiwan is more popular due to its visa-free privilege that will remain valid until July next year and more low-cost airlines are operating flights such as NokScoot which encourages Thais to travel.”
The visa-free privilege allows Thai and Brunei passport holders to stay in Taiwan for up to 30 days.
Low-cost airlines are often identified as the main reason for the growth in the Thai outbound market that stagnated for years at around 5 million visits a year. Legacy carriers were content to keep fares artificially high as they were more interested in business travel than the low-yield leisure group business.
“ASEAN travel will be the main focus as Thai travellers are not keen to spend more than three hours on flights as the holidays are shorter, usually just long weekends. This means they can travel to Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines if they are Bangkok residents.”
For Thais living in secondary cities the market is held back by flight times to most destinations in ASEAN being in excess of six hours, when transfers at Bangkok’s two gateway airports are included.