TAT aims to revive the East Asian market

TAT aims to revive the East Asian market

The agency wants to attract corporate groups, digital nomads and students

A health worker takes a swab sample from a man at a makeshift Covid-19 testing site outside office buildings in Beijing on April 27, 2022. (AFP Photo)

While many destinations are easing travel requirements to accommodate a new flow of tourists after two years of battling the pandemic, some East Asian countries remain vigilant with strict Covid-19 arrival rules.

To ensure Thailand remains a top destination for visitors from East Asia and prepares for further easing of travel restrictions, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) continues to seek opportunities to support the recovery. .

RIGOROUS CONTAINMENT

Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, director of the TAT Chengdu office in China, said strict border controls and preventive measures for domestic travel under Beijing’s zero-Covid policy would continue for the time being, especially in Chengdu, which hosts the World University Games in June.

Hong Kong maintains strict quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated visitors, with those accompanied by children aged 11 or younger only exiting on the seventh day after arrival, followed by self-monitoring for seven days, Naparat Vudhivad said. , director of the TAT’s Hong Kong office. .

The main obstacle is the lack of air transport, with the Hong Kong government having imposed a temporary ban on any airline carrying at least three passengers who test positive.

Bangkok Airways hopes to resume the Koh Samui-Hong Kong route by the end of this year, while Greater Bay Airlines plans to restart its Hong Kong-Bangkok service in the third quarter.

Seksan Sripraiwan, director of TAT’s office in Tokyo, said international flights have not fully resumed as leisure travelers are still not allowed to travel to Japan.

At present, each flight is limited to only 80% capacity due to social distancing rules.

Japanese visitors to Thailand in the first four months of 2022 remained low at 3,000-5,000 per month on average.

According to the authority’s baseline scenario, the number of Japanese tourists is expected to reach 35,000 to 40,000 this year, although the situation could improve if travel rules continue on both sides.

Mr Seksan said that if Japan relaxes travel rules in July and August, Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket can expect to attract more of this market.

FAVORABLE TO FIRST MOVERS

He said the Tokyo office wants to attract groups who can travel despite current regulations, especially business and leisure groups who have to attend to their businesses or factories in Thailand, in addition to golfers. , which have a market of 20 million.

Another target is the youth segment, covering those participating in educational exchange programs as well as wealthy young adults who are willing to pay for luxury goods.

Mr Seksan said the trend towards remote working has accelerated as there are around 20 million Japanese digital nomads. Thailand should be able to attract many of them to travel while working, he said.

Tax breaks and other incentives are major lures for remote workers, as people who work remotely from other countries can pay a personal income tax rate of 30%, compared to 50% in Japan.

Mr Seksan said the Tokyo office will launch a “Blecation campaign” combining business, leisure and vacation to attract businesses and independent tourists. Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Pattaya are the main destinations, with connections to Krabi and Trang for meetings and incentives.

Meanwhile, Ms Kanokkittika said the TAT’s China office is targeting three segments: business travellers; medical tourists interested in wellness and in vitro fertilization packages; and students who wish to enroll in business, tourism and finance programs in Thailand.

“We need to erase the impression of typical large Chinese groups seen in the pre-Covid period because only tourists with high purchasing power can now travel abroad due to higher costs,” she said. .

The student segment has growth potential as on-site programs in Thailand can continue. The TAT has conducted joint promotions with universities that have offices in Chengdu, such as Rangsit University and the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, as well as partner airlines to attract more students.

Ms Kanokkittika said the TAT had helped 500 Chinese students in March, while at least 2,000 students are expected to arrive next year based on more than 10,000 students already enrolled in universities.

As Hong Kong travelers are heavily influenced by celebrities and social media, TAT will promote Thailand through online content from key opinion leaders, local media and online travel agencies, said Mrs Naparat. The TAT plans to participate in the International Travel Expo Hong Kong from August 18 to 21.

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