Fancy a visit to Phuket or Bangkok? Thailand is looking forward to welcoming you. The country is counting on Indian visitors to revive tourism and expects to welcome 5 lakh arrivals from India this year with travel restrictions being eased, said Cholada Siddhivarn, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
“Load factors from airlines look satisfactory. In terms of Indian arrivals to Thailand, the preliminary data showed we have more than 16,000 Indian travellers to Thailand from May 1-10,” she told Moneycontrol.
Thailand, which saw 39.8 million international visitors in 2019, recently announced that fully vaccinated international travellers will no longer be required to show proof of a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test and will also not have to undergo an arrival test. And while the Thailand Pass documentation procedure and insurance policy are mandatory for all travellers, the coverage has been reduced to $10,000 from $20,000.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated will be required to show proof of a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours prior to the arrival date or they will have to book a five-day hotel stay to undergo the quarantine and undergo an RT-PCR test on the fifth day.
“India has always been in the top five source markets for us. Before the pandemic, there were almost 2 million Indian tourists a year coming to the kingdom, generating 86 billion baht in revenue. Now, TAT intends to focus on rebuilding the Indian market with a particular emphasis on special interest groups with high spending. These include weddings and honeymoons, golf, millennials, and digital nomads,” said Siddhivarn.
She noted that the top three spending categories for inbound visitors are accommodation, shopping, and food and beverages. “Now that the destination is fully open with ease in travel procedures for vaccinated Indians, we are hopeful that there will be a significant amount of time spent in Thailand and thereby an increase in the spending behaviour.”
Siddhivarn said that local attractions in Thailand are also slowly gearing up to welcome tourists. “We are also targeting the wedding and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) segments as we see a huge potential with a good spending ability. Thailand’s tourism industry is showing good signs of recovery and within a short span of time we may be back to pre-COVID levels.”
A positive is the resumption of international flights from India. “With a few airlines fully operational and some slowly resuming flights, there will be an increase in demand. The world is opening and so is the demand for travel. Hence, there will be an increase in the flight schedule,” said the TAT official.
Under its ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022: Amazing New Chapters’ marketing campaign, TAT has planned familiarisation trips for travel agents and wedding planners, and those organising business events. “TAT will also head up the Thailand presence at India’s largest tourism promotion event, South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) 2022, which is scheduled for May 18-20 in New Delhi,” she added.
While the top source markets in 2019 for Thailand were China, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Laos, Japan, Russia, US, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong, markets like China are not contributing as much as they did in pre-COVID times.
In addition, the Russia-Ukraine crisis is also spelling bad news for the kingdom with Russian travellers cancelling their trips this year. In January, Russians were the largest travel group in Thailand. Before COVID, 1.5 million Russians visited Thailand and had spent $3.3 billion and became the third-highest source of tourism revenue for the country, according to official data.Foreign tourist arrivals last year slumped to 427,869 from 6.7 million a year earlier, according to Thailand’s ministry of tourism and sports. This year, the country is targeting 5.5 million foreign tourist arrivals. And India will be a key market for the kingdom.