Thailand: Domestic trips decrease over Covid jitters

A resurgence of local Covid-19 cases has affected travel sentiment for the upcoming long weekend as Thai tourists are expected to take fewer trips than during holidays last month, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Local tourists are estimated to make 3.1 million trips nationwide between Dec 10-13, generating 12.6 billion baht, but the growth is slower compared with vacations in November, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

“Even though people will continue with their plans, some of them hesitated about the situation, which saw Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai heavily affected by cancellations and postponements,” he said.

The most sensitive groups are families, senior travellers, meetings and incentives. Some of those decided to shift their destinations to nearby provinces instead, resulting in the highest occupancy of 61% in the Central region, while the nationwide average is 40%.

TAT’s survey also found the North still has a healthy occupancy rate of around 59%, as this is the high season for this region.

Meanwhile, data analysis collected from conversations on social media platforms found people are concerned about the outbreak in the country, particularly in provinces linked to the new cases. Most keywords showed negative sentiment towards the reported infections.

The southern floods also affected tourism in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Krabi, Trang, Phatthalung and Songkhla. The average occupancy for the South was the lowest at 19%.

Tourism in the Northeast remains intact as the average occupancy is expected to be 59%. Local events and activities such as Jim Thompson’s farm tour for the whole month of December helped people plan their vacations in advance.

Some tourist attractions in the Northeast also helped lure massive crowds, such as Khao Yai National Park, the third largest national park in the country, which drew 43,543 tourists during the long holiday last month.

National parks remain popular destinations after they welcomed 400,000 travellers in November, 2.4 times higher than normal weekends. Doi Inthanon National Park remains the second popular hot spot attracting over 40,200 tourists.

Mr Yuthasak said 80.4% of those surveyed planned trips for December, 6.67 percentage points higher than a survey in September.

The busiest time is during the New Year festival at 62.8%, followed by Constitution Day (21.1%) and Father’s Day (17.1%). Some 87.6% planned overnight trips with average spending of 9,136 baht per trip, while the average length of stay is 3.37 days.

He said cross-regional trips make up 63.1% of long-distance journeys, with the North ranking as the preferred destination. Some 56% plan to travel in their own vehicles.