By Suchat Sritama
The number of air travellers from the United Kingdom to Thailand has not been affected by the murders of two British nationals at a resort island in the South of Thailand on Monday, airline officials said.
Two major airlines, Thai Airways (THAI) and British Airways (BA) have confirmed that there was no change in bookings in the aftermath of the crime, while new bookings were increasing ahead of the upcoming high season.
The airlines also believed that the murders in Koh Tao and the subsequent travel advisory would not have a huge impact on the industry, unlike the political unrest earlier in the year.
Suraphon Israngura na Ayuthya, THAI executive vice president of commercial department, said the current average load factor of THAI flights from London to Bangkok is 65-68 per cent, which is normal for the off season.
He added that new bookings from UK and other markets from Europe for the high season is increasing, as a lot of tourists still planned their vacations in Thailand.
“We don’t see any impact now. The numbers should increase significantly during the high season from October to April.
Billy Chomsakorn, country commercial manager Thailand at BA, said its load factor for Bangkok to London remained high at 90 per cent while origin booking from UK also was doing well.
“Our business is running as usual, no cancellations or change in travel plans,” said Billy. The airline on Wednesday launched a round-trip promotion for Bangkok via London to New York or Boston at Bt44,000, all inclusive.
Earlier, it had introduced a special round-trip ticket priced at Bt33,000 for the Bangkok-London route. Also, alternative seat upgrading was also used to boost sales.
Billy said 870,000 tourists from the UK visited Thailand last year. The airline hoped the number would increase to 900,000 next year. A report said that 11 British nationals have been killed in Thailand since 2010, with the deaths caused by accidents, murder or robbery.
According to Thai officials, the government is targeting 6.9 million tourists from Europe next year, a 6 per cent increase over this year’s projection. Europeans are expected to generate Bt500 billion income next year.