Thai travel agent group says travel restrictions hamper tourism growth

The Thai Travel Agents Association is recognising some countries’ travel restrictions as hampering tourism growth. Charoen Wangananont, president of the TTAA, says that outbound tourism in the last two months of this year remains strong despite concerns about an economic recession. Such outbound tourism is holding steady, particularly to those destinations that currently have no travel restrictions.

According to Bangkok Post, Charoen noted that those countries that allowed inbound tourism, despite having some restrictions in place, saw slower market feedback. One example, he says, is that of South Korea, which still requires tourists to receive pre-approval from the K-ETA registration system. But Charoen pointed out that Japan’s travel market stood out from others as he says Thai tourists have continued to travel there since its reopening in October. He says although Japan’s seat capacity on flights is only at 60% of its pre-pandemic levels, coupled with expensive ticket prices, travel to the country is expected to stay strong.

He says that packages to Japan have accounted for 20% of total sales this year, despite only being reopened in October. As for Songkran, he says tour operators have already started to offer holiday packages in April 2023, of which 30 to 40% are already booked. Thai travellers are also booking tours in Vietnam this quarter as the country has eased travel restrictions.

Charoen says that countries who want to promote tourism should consider lifting their remaining restrictions for next year. He says that those countries who have already lifted travel restrictions are more able to take advantage of the travel boom, instead of just reopening for tourism half-heartedly.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Transport Ministry is under orders to request more international flights to the country as tourism surges. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-chat issued the order for the ministry to contact international flight carriers on the same day he noted that tourism is on the road to recovery. According to the government, the country has seen around 10 million foreign arrivals up until December 10 of this year. That number will only grow as the high season arrives soon.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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