Thai hotels and airlines are pinning their hopes on Songkran to revive a domestic tourism sector that has been dormant since the resurgence of Covid-19 late last year. According to a Bangkok Post report, Centara Hotels and Resorts are reporting an uptick in advance bookings for the holiday period. Chief exec Thirayuth Chirathivat says while forward bookings don’t come close to matching 2019 levels, some hotels already have over 70% advance bookings.
He says they include locations like Bangkok, Pattaya, and Hua Hin, where it looks like hotels will be fully booked between April 11 and 14, despite there being no tourism subsidy scheme at the moment.
Meanwhile, Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth from Bangkok Airways says this year’s longer Songkran holidays should encourage more domestic tourism. The carrier is currently only flying 30% of domestic capacity, which makes the Songkran load factor difficult to gauge. He says while passenger demand is slowly recovering, it still hasn’t fully recovered from the second wave of Covid-19 that hit in December. The airline is laying on extra flights to Koh Samui over the Songkran holidays due to increased demand. There will now be 20 flights a day compared to the usual 6 – 8.
Nuntaporn Komonsittivate from Thai Lion Air says bookings for all routes are currently below 50%, but she expects that to increase to closer to 100% for the Songkran period. She says passengers tend to wait until closer to the time to make bookings, adding that Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, and Phuket appear to be the favourite destinations. She says that from May, TLA will work closely with its partners to provide special offers over the low-season period.
“We have not considered any buffet-style tickets at this moment. But we plan to roll out more new promotions throughout the year to attract tourists.”
Thai Lion Air currently uses 11 aircraft and operates 40 flights a day, up from 20 – 30 in January and February, during the second wave of the virus. Nuntaporn says the carrier is not pinning its hopes on a specific number of passengers this year but hopes to maintain an average load factor of 70%. She says the situation should improve as the country gradually re-opens to foreign tourists.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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