The Thai Travel Agents Association is urging the government to enter into reciprocal agreements with other countries that will allow quarantine-free tourism between the citizens of both countries. These agreements will allow not only inbound tourism to improve but also outbound.
The TTAA pointed out that many Thai are already gearing up to travel overseas after spending several months in lockdown. Traditionally, Thais travel overseas instead of traveling locally for the holidays, but the pandemic has forced these travel bugs to limit their trips to within the country.
The “We Travel Together” has taken advantage of this, targeting Thai travelers by providing subsidies for hotel accommodation and airline tickets of up to THB3,000 and THB1,000 respectively. Long weekends in the past couple of months have also helped in spurring demand for domestic tourism especially in the provinces of Chiang Mai, and Trat.
However, as the situation improves, demand in both outbound and inbound tourism will also grow. Given an improvement in the global COVID-19 situation, foreign tourists could start coming in significant numbers by the third quarter of 2021.
For this to happen, however, Thailand will need to enter into reciprocal “Travel bubble” agreements. These agreements will allow Thais to travel to other countries without being quarantined, and citizens of nations signing these agreements will also enjoy the same privilege in the Kingdom.
“If people can travel without concerns about quarantine, both in destination and origin countries, more trips will be made, even without a vaccine available,” said TTAA president Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, who described quarantines as an “obstacle” to tourism.
Ultimately, he said, tour operators will have to follow guidelines set by health and foreign ministries in countries abroad.
However, he pointed that Thai nationals who want to travel abroad have become used to public health and safety measures, and are ready to observe the same precautions when traveling overseas amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Mr. Suthiphong said that they are expecting an increase in outbound tourism demand for the Tokyo Olympics, which take place in July and August 2021. He cited a “large portion” of the local market who still want to attend sporting events abroad and locally.
For now, the TTAA’s members will have to find ways to earn from domestic tourism until the country reopens itself fully to foreign tourism.
To gain revenues, they are planning to offer premium tour packages to locals with high purchasing power and who usually flies to other countries at this time of the year. They hope to earn THB10,000 for three-day trips and THB30,000 for week-long trips.
Describing the market, the TTAA pointed out that a total of 11 million Thais went abroad for the holidays in 2019. Tourism receipts show spending of THB430 billion from these outbound travelers.
Such revenues will help keep their members’ businesses afloat, as over 50% of the Association’s members have closed down during the pandemic.
“The association has to encourage members to shift focus to the domestic market in order to survive until international entries can restart next year,” said Mr Suthiphong.