SUNDAY, February 25, 2024
nationthailand

TAT expects foreign tourists in the first 4 months to surpass 8 million

TAT expects foreign tourists in the first 4 months to surpass 8 million

With at least 8 million foreign visitors expected in the first four months of this year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) believes the country could receive at least 25 million visitors during 2023, as targeted. 

With at least 8 million foreign visitors expected in the first four months of this year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) believes the country could receive at least 25 million visitors during 2023, as targeted. 

The recovery of the Thai tourism sector was visible in the large number of foreign tourists visiting many provinces of Thailand during the Songkran Festival.

In view of the quicker-than-expected recovery trends in the Thai tourism sector, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn advised tourism-related business operators to refrain from price wars. He urged them to take advantage of the pent up spending power of foreign tourists, who could not travel during the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions. This opportunity to recover some of the lost income during the pandemic should last at least another year, he said.

Wallapa Traisorat, the chief executive officer and president of Asset World Corp Plc (AWC), said the current tourism outlook is optimistic for hotels under the AWC management which are mainly in the upscale segment located in major tourist destinations, such as Bangkok and Phuket.

Currently, the room occupancy rate average is quite high at 80%, even with the two-fold increase in room rates from the rates before the pandemic. Moroever, the gradual return of Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai should boost the relatively slow recovery in the business of upscale hotels there in the near future, Wallapa added.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, the president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said that the recovery of the tourism sector has allowed some hotels to increase their room rates.

According to a survey conducted by the THA and the Bank of Thailand in March this year, based on the confidence index of hotel operators, 74% of hotels (5-star rating and up) have increased their room rates to above the rates prevailing before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Hotels below 4-star rating have less capacity to adjust their room rates, with only 34% of 4-star hotels able to increase their rates as compared to before the Covid-19 crisis. As for hotels below 3-star rating, 26% of them were able to increase their rates over the pre-pandemic period, Marisa said.

Based on the survey results for hotels at all rating levels, 38% of them were able to adjust their room rates, with 17% being able to increase their rates by 16-30% compared to before Covid-19. Another 15% of hotels were only able to increase their rates by up to 15% compared to before the pandemic, while 6% of hotels were able to increase their rates by more than 30% compared to pre-pandemic rates, Marisa added.

According to the survey, 62% of hotel operators in Thailand are still facing a problem of labour shortage, and 25% are affected by both the number of customers and the quality of service, especially in regions with high occupancy rates such as the South and Central regions. Meanwhile, the Eastern region is mostly affected by the quality of service. 

Marisa added that after China lifted Covid travel restrictions, most tourism business operators felt that in the first quarter of this year Chinese tourists were still not a vital factor. More than 70% of respondents believed that the proportion of Chinese tourists who stayed was still less than 20% compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

However, tourism business operators expect the number of Chinese tourists in the second quarter of 2023 to increase, but about 80% of respondents believe that the proportion of those who return will still be lower than 40% compared to before the Covid outbreak.

According to TAT's deputy governor for Asia and the South Pacific, Tanes Petsuwan, at least 8 million foreign visitors are expected during January-April this year, with tourists from Asia and the South Pacific accounting for more than 62%.

Thailand’s tourism recovery is banking heavily on the return of Chinese tourists. The TAT expects at least 5 million Chinese tourists to visit Thailand this year, based on the upward trend of about 10,000 Chinese tourists a day, which is expected to double to 20,000 tourists per day in the second half of this year. The TAT sees the total number of Chinese tourists surpassing the number of visitors from Malaysia in the third quarter of this year, Tanes said.

TAT estimates that 3.5 million to 4 million Malaysian tourists will visit Thailand, while tourists from India and South Korea will likely exceed 1 million.

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