Tourists kayak along Bangkok’s Ong Ang canal. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill
With local tourism receipts set to fall below the government target of 656 billion baht because of nationwide floods and economic volatility, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to accelerate the use of the fiscal 2023 budget to revive sluggish demand.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said a promotional campaign to help absorb travel costs for local tourists is essential because the market is plagued by several unfavourable factors.
With the new fiscal year starting this month, the agency hopes lower travel costs will allow tourists to save money and spend more on their trips.
“Flooding and a weak economy might be critical obstacles for local consumption in the final quarter,” he said.
Moreover, with subsidy schemes such as “We Travel Together” ending this month, some travellers with purchasing power may opt for overseas destinations, limiting domestic revenue and making it likely that the target will be missed, said Mr Yuthasak.
He said most domestic tourists typically travel within Thailand on weekends or long holidays, making it unlikely they would spend more even if there were marketing campaigns persuading them to stay longer.
TAT will soon outline new projects for the upcoming festive season, which is expected to help revive the market, said Mr Yuthasak.
“People who have demand for travel still go, but they might spend less,” he said.
For inbound tourism, the number of foreign travellers is expected to reach the forecast of 10 million.
The TAT is already working on projects such as a mission to increase airplane seat capacity this winter to more than 50% of the level in the fourth quarter of 2019, said Mr Yuthasak.
Many airlines are adding flights and reporting stronger load factors.
He said there are ongoing campaigns to spur foreign spending by providing longer periods of stay for arrival and tourist visas, which the government approved last month.
“I’m still optimistic tourism can be a mechanism to drive the country forward,” said Mr Yuthasak.
The TAT, the Culture Ministry, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Thai Board of Trade signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday for a project to support local tourism by adding value to cultural products and services.
The new initiative is expected to be driven by technology and digital platforms.