Thu, May 26, 2022

in-focus

More Thais travelling overseas during Songkran holidays this year


After a two-year hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic, many Thais have opted to travel overseas during the long Songkran holiday period, tour company executives say.

Tour companies have seen a return of 10-15 per cent in their outbound travel customers, compared to the pre-Covid numbers, with European countries being the main destinations.

Many Thais have chosen to take overseas trips because they have not done so for over two years since Covid-19 struck in early 2020, and now they have learned “how to live with Covid”, the tour operators said.

Other contributing factors include resumption of international flights, no strict Covid rules for vaccinated tourists in many countries, and a perception that the dominant Omicron variant causes only mild illness.

Chanok Kalyanamitra, managing director of tour company My Journey Travel, said most of his customers during Songkran are travelling in small groups of lesser than 10 people.

“The popular destinations are in Europe, including Switzerland, France and the UK,” he said.

Each customer is charged more than 120,000 baht on average, about 10-20 per cent higher than the pre-Covid prices, in order to offset the higher cost per head due to the smaller number of customers, according to Chanok.

Rachphol Yamsaeng, general manager at travel organiser Unithai Travel, said that most of his customers are travelling to Europe, mainly Turkey, during this year’s Songkran holidays.

“About 10-15 per cent of our pre-Covid customers have returned. That’s not much but it’s a good momentum. Before Covid, we had 100 outbound tour groups during Songkran,” he said.

He said many tour companies went out of business due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Rachphol is convinced that the demand for air travel remains unchanged and pre-Covid international travel is gradually returning as airlines resume their flights.

Meanwhile, Nond Kalinta, chief commercial officer of Thai Airways International, said the Thai flag carrier has resumed its international flights to 34 destinations — accounting for 30-40 per cent of the pre-Covid volume.

He sees signs of more and more Thais travelling abroad, particularly to Europe, as the Covid crisis seems to be ebbing.

Earlier, Airports of Thailand estimated that the six airports it runs would see 238,800 international passengers between April 11 and 17, an increase of almost 1,800 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

Published : April 15, 2022