Thailand targets 35 million international tourists

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The Tourism and Sports Ministry of Thailand is optimistic about its ability to attract 35 million international tourists this year. This confidence stems from the fact that in the first month of the year alone, the country recorded three million foreign visitors. The encouraging figure was aided by daily arrivals exceeding 90,000 on weekdays and 100,000 during the weekends in January.

The government plans to maintain this momentum through a variety of incentives throughout the year. These include the continuation of visa-free schemes for all eligible countries, the removal of TM6 immigration forms at the Thai-Malaysian border checkpoints, and promotions aimed at second-tier cities.

As of the start of February, the highest number of visitors were from China, with a total of 533,450 arrivals. They were followed by Malaysia and South Korea, with 337,729 and 229,517 tourists respectively.

The president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, mentioned that the airfares for China-Thailand routes remain high compared to 2019. The prices spiked to 4,000-5,000 yuan or approximately 20,000 baht (US$559) for a round-trip ticket during the Chinese New Year.

However, he maintained that the higher costs for airfares and tour packages do not deter Chinese travellers from second-tier cities, who are willing to spend their savings on special holidays. Sisdivachr noted an increase in the number of charter flights, primarily for holiday travel, as tour operators remain hesitant to plan long-term services of six months to one year as they did pre-pandemic.

He suggested that the government should provide incentives for charter flight operations and support private operators in conducting more roadshows in second-tier cities. This would enhance tourism confidence and create momentum from large markets, aiding the government in reaching its target arrivals more easily.

Sisdivachr added that a roadshow that combines two cities would cost approximately 7-10 million baht (US$195,804-279,720) but would provide the opportunity to directly engage with over 800 travel agents in the targeted areas, reported Bangkok Post.

Atta members reported a total of over 127,000 Chinese tourists for January. Despite the high costs of tour packages, Thailand remains a desirable destination for Chinese tourists, particularly those from second-tier cities.

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