Thailand takes flight with airlines to boost tourism in 2024

Image courtesy of NNT

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is soaring to new heights, actively courting partnerships with a sky-high count of 11 international airlines to elevate both burgeoning and established markets in the latter part of this year.

With the long-haul market expected to fly in at least 770 billion baht from a soaring flock of 10.8 million foreign visitors in 2024, TAT Deputy Governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, is piloting the agency’s strategy to harness airlines from these regions to propel Thailand’s tourism to stratospheric levels.

The marketing blueprint for the latter half of the year is set to take off, concentrating on ascending and seasoned markets, ensuring Thailand remains the top destination for jet-setters worldwide.

Among the long-haul sectors, six rising markets showed significant growth in the initial five months of 2024, Poland (65.2%), Italy (48%), Saudi Arabia (27.6%), Denmark (26%), Canada (23%), and Kazakhstan (17.6%).

Additionally, five mature markets recorded gains during the same period and need to be sustained, France (38.7%), Germany (32%), the UK (22.6%), Russia (14.8%), and the US (14.3%).

As of yesterday, summer flight slots for most markets have already surpassed pre-pandemic levels, with the Middle East leading at 141%, followed by Europe (103%) and Africa (81.3%).

Need for cooperation

Siripakorn highlighted the need for improved cooperation with airlines, as several countries continue to face challenges with limited seat capacity and high airfares.

The agency plans to negotiate with airlines to combine airline seats with holiday packages or offer special rates for long-stay travellers, aligning with Thailand’s updated visa policy, which permits longer stays of up to 60 days for citizens from 93 countries.

Two airlines, including Air Canada, have agreed to offer long-stay airfares to attract tourists to spend more time in Thailand. Air Canada is set to launch direct flights between Vancouver and Bangkok starting in October.

For the European winter season, multiple airlines have confirmed new direct flights to Thailand. Spanish-Portugese charter airline, Iberojet, is operating seven weekly charter flights between Madrid and Bangkok.

Additionally, Condor, a German leisure airline, is flying four times weekly between Frankfurt and Bangkok, as well as Frankfurt and Phuket.

British Airways plans to initiate three direct flights per week from London Gatwick to Bangkok starting in October. Finnair will provide direct flights from Helsinki to Bangkok and Phuket beginning in November, with 19 to 20 flights per week combined on these routes.

Southern tourism

In Kazakhstan, SCAT Airlines began services from Almaty to Surat Thani on May 30. Thai Airways is set to restart Bangkok-Milan and Bangkok-Oslo services on July 1.

Siripakorn also mentioned that Thai AirAsia X, a long-haul low-cost carrier, plans to launch flights to four European cities during its winter season, reported Bangkok Post.

“Such negotiations with airlines were not possible the past few years when the aviation sector had very limited seats, forcing all carriers to sell expensive tickets. However, with more aircraft deliveries globally, airlines are now looking for opportunities to expand their networks, which means it is the right time to partner with Thailand, which still has strong tourism demand.”

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Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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