Thailand: Operators seek ways to disperse tourists

As most local tourists flock to popular destinations during the weekends, tour operators are asking the government to help fill up weekdays by creating more trips for the elderly and state agency meetings.

Phuriwat Limthavornrat, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, said the association is working on a plan to discuss with tourism-related agencies measures to disperse the flow of tourists.

He said elderly tourists are a potential market that can help support the whole sector as they need to use tourism operators to lead their excursions. Such a programme would help hotels fill vacant rooms from Monday to Thursday.

“The government should consider renewing the ‘Shocking Price Weekday Travel’ campaign, which was introduced last year, to encourage tourists to travel on weekdays, with more valuable deals on hotels, air tickets and restaurants,” said Mr Phuriwat.

Local operators and provincial communities have to cooperate by increasing weekday activities, such as adding 1-2 more night markets or walking streets midweek, instead of holding special events only on weekends.

Tour companies are ready to adopt the Safety and Health Administration standard, ensuring safety and convenience for tourists under new practices, especially for elderly travellers who can travel more freely without family escort.

Mr Phuriwat said another important market is state agencies that have budgets to arrange meetings in the provinces during weekdays, particularly after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered such groups to help stimulate the domestic market.

Gen Prayut mentioned this idea at the cabinet meeting last week as more tourism destinations started to see overcrowding during weekends after the lockdown was relaxed.

For the moral support campaign endorsed by the government, the association aims to offer tourism packages on weekdays with cheaper accommodation prices so tour operators can efficiently manage the 2,000-baht budget requirement with more interesting choices in packages.

Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said operators have to assess the effectiveness of new tourism stimulus schemes when they are rolled out for a month.

Even though this plan has received positive feedback, it is not enough to salve the whole industry as the domestic market contributes only 30% of total tourism revenue, he said.

The consequences of an outbreak still prevent most people from travelling as many want to save money for other necessary expenditures.

Mr Chairat said the government should commence the travel bubbles scheme as soon as possible.