BANGKOK – According to the Tourism Council of Thailand, domestic travel and outbound tourism sectors are expected to face difficulties in the second half of this year if the economy does not improve and the baht remains weak – but the inbound tourism sector should receive a boost.
Ittirith said although more people were planning to travel during the current long weekend period, overall domestic tourism remained slow judging by hotel bookings over the first half of this year.
“I believe that Thai people are now concerned about travelling. Instead, they are saving money. If the economy does not improve in the coming months, domestic tourism may be at the receiving end,” he said.
He added that outbound businesses faced the same difficulties, as many tour operators had received less bookings compared to the second quarter and July last year. The number of outbound travellers in July dropped about 10 per cent year on year.
The baht has fallen to a new five-year low (nearly Bt35 per US$) this month, hurting outbound businesses.
“Operators providing overseas trips are cutting packages by 10-20 per cent in this third quarter in a bid to lift the markets. Packages to Europe are now 20 per cent cheaper than last year while trips to Asia have been cut by 10 per cent,” Ittirith said.
However, he said if the baht remained weak, it should bring more benefit to inbound tourism for the remainder of the year.
Members of the TCT said they had received more contracts from overseas, particularly individual tourists, but customers still hadn’t made decisions although tourists travelling with groups were returning to growth.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents reported that foreign tourists travelling with ATTA members had increased by 113 per cent during January and July compared to the same period last year. As of July, ATTA members’ biggest market was China at 58 per cent followed by Japan (42 per cent), India (3.9 per cent), and South Korea (3.5 per cent).
According to Skyscanner, a leading travel search engine, Thailand was the only Asian country among the world’s top 10 most-searched destinations from January to June.
The top 10 most searched were Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Greece, Turkey, France, Germany, and Thailand respectively.
“The wealth of data indicates that Thailand is an evergreen destination – attracting visitors both locally and internationally with natural and cultural beauty. Being the only Asian country to make the top 10 list is a reflection of the country’s efforts to promote Thailand as a destination all year round,” said Grace Areerat, marketing manager, Skyscanner Thailand. The data showed that the top three trending cities in Thailand are Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samui respectively. Bangkok recorded a 45 per cent year-on-year increase in searches while searches for Phuket increased by 44 per cent and Koh Samui 39 per cent.