Charter flights proposed to boost tourism in Thailand


BANGKOK: The Tourism Ministry will discuss with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) ways to stimulate charter flight traffic from China, South Korea, Russia, and Europe to boost tourism numbers and achieve the Prime Minister's target of 40 million people.

Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said that strong strategies were needed to meet the goals set by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of attracting 40 million international visitors to Thailand in 2024 and overall revenue from both domestic and international tourism of 3.5 trillion baht, which is higher than the TAT’s target.

The Ministry and the TAT are thus discussing marketing tactics, including the use of charter flights, to enhance the likelihood of achieving the set goals.

The ministry will convene a meeting with TAT today (February 19), to monitor the plan to stimulate the market and attract charter flights from both nearby and distant markets.

These include Russia, the Scandinavian region, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), certain areas of Europe, South Korea, and China, which present the greatest opportunity for recovery.

Despite China's economic slowdown, the market's size and readiness for travel make it conducive to expanding charter flights to secondary cities in China. This will help increase the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand to reach the target of 8 million people this year.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 2019 was considered a record-breaking year for Chinese tourists travelling to Thailand, with over 11 million visitors. The market structure showed that 40% were independent travellers, while 60% were group tourists.

Among these groups of tourists, around 25-30% travelled on charter flights.

"Stimulating charter flights is considered a crucial tactic because it can attract international tourists from secondary cities that do not have regular flights, allowing them to visit Thailand. In 2019, the proportion of international tourists travelling on charter flights was around 17-20% of the nearly 40 million foreign visitors.

However, in 2022, this proportion decreased significantly to only 3%. Therefore, it is imperative to expedite efforts to regain a 15% share of the charter flight market in the current year," Sudawan said.

Additionally, the Ministry and TAT will assign tasks to the TAT offices responsible for the top 10 international tourist markets with the highest number of travellers to Thailand. Each market is required to achieve a growth of at least 10% or more in the current year.

For example, the Russian market must achieve a growth rate of 10-15%.

All these tactics and strategies require budget allocation and supporting policies, such as the visa facilitation policy and extending visa-free measures. - The Nation/ANN

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