Long-haul tourism to boost Thai tourism revenue in 2024

Photo courtesy of jcomp (Freepik)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) anticipates that long-haul tourism will significantly bolster Thai tourism revenue in 2024, contributing seven percentage points more than pre-pandemic levels. This was discussed last week as the Minister for Tourism and Sports, Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, met with TAT executives to deliberate on next year’s market strategies. The government has set a goal of 3.5 trillion baht in tourism revenue.

Long-haul travellers accounted for 33% of tourism revenue before the pandemic, which surged to 61% in 2021 when borders reopened under the sandbox entry programme, and stayed robust at 48% in 2022.

Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT’s deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, stated…

“We expect to see long-haul revenue this year account for 39% of overall tourism receipts, reaching 40% in 2024, a gain of seven percentage points from pre-pandemic levels,”

The challenge lies in maintaining this figure as short-haul markets regain strength, Siripakorn noted. He further highlighted that the primary goal for 2024 is to increase average spending per person. The government’s extension of visa-free entry from 30 to 60 days could be instrumental in achieving this.

Despite the visa-free entry, between 200,000-300,000 European tourists still apply for tourist visas annually to stay longer than 30 days in Thailand. If the valid stay period is extended to 60 days, this could lead to an additional 6 million room nights for accommodation, Siripakorn suggested.

Tourism and Sports Ministry’s proposal for multiple entries for specific countries, if approved by the cabinet, could attract more long-haul tourists from countries like the US. Siripakorn added that while inbound flights to Thailand are expected to recover to 80% of 2019 levels this year, full recovery is unlikely next year due to the slow growth of airline fleets, reports Bangkok Post.

Siripakorn pointed to deal with possible flight shortages next year, TAT will accelerate cooperation with tourism operators to allocate more chartered flights to Thailand. During the high-season slot from October this year to March 2025, chartered operators have allocated over 600,000 seats to Thailand, mainly from Russia, Germany, and the UK.

As the government targets to establish the Songkran festival as a global event, the TAT sees an opportunity to grow the market via festivals. The agency plans to introduce Songkran festivals to passengers on European and Middle Eastern airlines during their flights to Thailand and to celebrate the event in the US with Thai communities.

He also spoke about the new TAT office in Chicago, stating…

“The new office can also cover two key cities in Canada, Toronto and Vancouver, where the market is growing with the resumption of direct flights from Air Canada.”

He expressed hope to hold a large Songkran celebration in the city if the office opens before April.

In related news, Toshiba Corporation gets booted from Tokyo Exchange but Toshiba Thailand stays.

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