PHUKET, 10 June 2022: Thailand’s tourism industry needs a booster shot, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand intends to administer a massive sales and marketing jab to accelerate recovery.
Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn commented on the opening day of the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+), saying he was “pushing for the country’s tourism recovery with plans referred to as a ‘booster shot’ to stimulate international markets. The key focus is to bring back airlines’ seats and reach out to target markets by conducting roadshows.”
The Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2022, hosted in Phuket, closes Friday, 10 June, after a conference and networking trade show that lasted three days.
Yuthasak said he had different plans to propose to the government, but the core element requires a THB100 million budget to help speed up the tourism recovery.
Following the easing of travel restrictions, TAT targets tourism to climb to around 25% of pre-Covid levels by the end of the year and 80% by next year. According to the recent estimates, the agency expects the industry will fully recover no later than 2024. It’s an ambitious undertaking as the country welcomed 39 million visitors during the 2019 pre-Covid era.
But he is confident that TAT’s ‘booster shot’ will stimulate the travel market – pushing tourist arrivals to as high as 10 million by 2022.
“For the booster shot, we are looking at several plans that we will propose to the government, such as bringing back numbers of airlines seats as air capacity is still limited, which raises the cost of travel. TAT offices in overseas countries will discuss and convince international airlines that there’s enough demand for their flights to Thailand. Also, we are looking to conduct roadshows or trade missions, especially in the target markets such as India, the Middle East and Indonesia,” said Yuthasak.
As for increasing air seat capacity, he said efforts would not be limited to just scheduled flights. TAT will work with airlines to promote charter flights or conduct co-marketing to help airlines fill the gap between their expected organic growth and the target.
There is also a plan to conduct roadshows in priority source market countries. Yuthasak said the Chinese market is showing positive signs as some provinces start to ease travel restrictions and some local authorities are approaching TAT to discuss the possibility of working on the sandbox model with Thailand.
But independent observers who have an ear to the ground in China’s travel market say the reopening date for outbound travel is far from decided as China still adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for Covid-19. It is likely to remain the dominant policy for the remainder of the year so the best-case scenario suggests outbound travel may revive during the Chinese New Year 2023 celebrations (22 January). The worst-case scenario could see outbound travel returning at full throttle in time for the annual golden week holiday in October 2023.
Yuthasak adopts the optimistic forecast, saying that if the situation and related restrictions improve by October 2022, TAT hopes to welcome Chinese tourists by early next year around the Chinese New Year holiday break.
As for the TTM+, he recommends the show expand for the 2023 edition to include a B2C sales session to help sellers capture business directly from the domestic travel market.