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Airlines to cut long-haul flights to Thailand

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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BANGKOK (Nation): Major airlines including Thai Airways International will cut long-haul flights to Thailand next year in line with a forecast 12% drop in the number of inbound tourists, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) has announced.

ATTA president Apichart Sankary said that although the Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a target of 17 million visitors next year, only 15 million may arrive.

Starting today, THAI will suspend its New York-Bangkok service. The company has also reduced flight frequencies, re-routed flights with particular impact on its US operations, and introduced other cost-cutting measures.

“Other airlines such as Lufthansa are also considering reducing long-haul flights between Thailand and Europe,” said K. Apichart.

Thailand is expected to miss this year’s visitor target of 15.7 million. The ATTA, which encompasses inbound travel agencies, expects the number to reach only 15 million.

While domestic tourism will be more sluggish than last year due to political conflict, said K. Apichart, he attributed the lower number of foreign visitors to efforts in Europe and the US to lure tourists from the Middle East.

Maitree Narukhatpichai, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, admitted that foreign tourists’ bookings for the island this month had dropped 15%-20% compared with last year, due to political tensions, which were driving away visitors from major markets.

Seni Phuwasethavorn, president of the Koh Samui Tourism Business Association, said the high season would not be as active as last year due to the higher cost of traveling.

For instance, the fare on the ferry from the mainland to the island will soon be increased by 20%. Currently, Koh Samui’s hotel occupancy rate is at 60%, down from 70%-80% from the same period last year.

 

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