TAT aims to revitalize the East Asian market
TAT aims to revitalize the East Asian market
Agency wants to attract corporate groups, digital nomads and students
A health worker takes a swab sample from a man at a makeshift Covid-19 testing site outside office buildings in Beijing April 27, 2022. (AFP photo)
As many destinations relax travel requirements to welcome a new flow of tourists after two years of battling the Covid-19 pandemic, some East Asian nations remain vigilant with strict Covid-19 arrival rules.
To keep Thailand a top destination for East Asian visitors and prepare for further easing of travel restrictions, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) continues to explore ways to support the recovery.
Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, director of TAT’s Chengdu office in China, said strict border controls and preventive measures for domestic travel as part of Beijing’s zero-Covid policy will continue for the time being, particularly in Chengdu, where the World University Games will be held in June.
Hong Kong maintains strict quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated visitors, with those accompanied by children aged 11 or younger only being released on the seventh day of arrival, followed by seven days of self-monitoring, said Naparat Vudhivad, director of the TAT- Offices in Hong Kong.
The main obstacle is the lack of air travel, as the Hong Kong government has imposed a temporary ban on all airlines carrying at least three passengers who have tested positive.
Bangkok Airways hopes to resume the Koh Samui-Hong Kong route by the end of this year, while Greater Bay Airlines plans to resume its Hong Kong-Bangkok service in the third quarter.
Seksan Sripraiwan, director of the TAT Tokyo office, said international flights have not yet fully resumed as leisure travelers are still not allowed to visit Japan.
Currently each flight is limited to just 80% capacity due to social distancing rules.
Japanese visitors to Thailand remained weak at an average of 3,000-5,000 per month for the first four months of 2022.
Under the agency’s baseline scenario, the number of Japanese tourists is expected to reach 35,000-40,000 this year, although the situation could improve if travel rules are relaxed further on both sides.
Mr Seksan said that if Japan eases travel rules in July and August, Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket can expect to attract more of that market.
EXCITED FOR THE FIRST TIME
He said the Tokyo office wants to attract groups who can travel despite existing regulations, particularly business and leisure groups who need to take care of their businesses or factories in Thailand, and golfers, who have a market size of 20 million.
Another target is the youth segment, which includes those participating in educational exchange programs as well as affluent young adults who are willing to pay for luxury products.
Mr Seksan said the teleworking trend has accelerated as there are around 20 million Japanese digital nomads. Thailand should be able to get many of them to travel while working, he said.
Tax breaks and other incentives are the main draws for teleworkers, as people working remotely from other countries can pay a personal income tax rate of 30%, compared to 50% in Japan.
Mr Seksan said the Tokyo office will launch a “blecation campaign” combining business, leisure and vacations to attract businesses and independent tourists. Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Pattaya are the main destinations with connections to Krabi and Trang for meetings and incentives.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kanokkittika said TAT’s China office targets three segments: business travelers; medical tourists interested in wellness and in vitro fertilization packages; and students who wish to enroll in business, tourism and finance programs in Thailand.
“We need to erase the impression of typical large Chinese groups from before Covid, because now only tourists with high purchasing power can travel abroad due to higher costs,” she said.
The student segment has growth potential as on-site programs in Thailand can continue. TAT has held joint promotions with universities that have offices in Chengdu, such as Rangsit University and the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and partner airlines to attract more students.
Ms Kanokkittika said TAT supported 500 Chinese students in March, while at least 2,000 students are expected next year, based on more than 10,000 students already enrolling in universities.
As Hong Kong travelers are heavily influenced by celebrities and social media, TAT will promote Thailand through online content from key opinion leaders, local media and online travel agencies, Ms Naparat said. TAT plans to attend the International Travel Expo Hong Kong from August 18th to 21st.