Tourists visit Red Lotus Lake, a popular attraction in Udon Thani, one of the targeted secondary provinces. (Photo b Thiti Wannamontha)
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has joined with Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) to promote 20 routes in 10 provinces nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2018 as part of a plan to increase revenue at the flag carrier.
The move is a response to recent instructions from the government, which wants state enterprises such as the TAT, Krungthai Bank and Airports of Thailand to use the tourism sector to boost income for THAI.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the tourism campaign, arranged under the theme “Amazing Thailand Go Local”, will be promoted in destinations where THAI and THAI Smile fly.
The 20 routes are mostly to secondary provinces such as Chiang Rai, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani and Yala. Others are in big provinces but can connect easily with second-tier destinations.
THAI flies to 61 destinations in 31 countries and carries about 25 million passengers a year. Domestically, THAI and low-cost sister airline THAI Smile fly to 10 provinces.
According to Mr Yuthasak, the two airlines will promote select routes under Ung Luang (Royal Orchid) packages for passengers, starting Oct 1 and running through December.
Charita Leelayuth, acting president of THAI Smile, said more than half of the airline’s operations are to secondary provinces.
As part of the airline partnership, it will promote four routes: Narathiwat-Tak Bai-Sungai Kolok for three days, and two nights, priced from 7,200 baht; Hat Yai-Phatthalung for two days and one night, priced from 8,800 baht; Surat Thani-Ranong for three days and two nights, priced from 16,800 baht; and Mae Hong Son-Pai for three days and two nights, priced from 16,800 baht.
Mr Yuthasak said the campaign will help increase the ratio of Thais to foreign tourists visiting second-tier provinces from 70:30 at present to 65:35 when the campaign is fulfilled.
Under the campaign, the expectation is for locals and foreigners to generate more than 10 billion baht for communities.
“In terms of numbers, the TAT expects more than 10 million tourists to travel to secondary provinces this year,” Mr Yuthasak said.
He said the tourist tax deduction scheme for 55 secondary provinces will continue until the end of this year, and that scheme will help reinforce domestic tourism in the remaining months.
The 15,000-baht tax deduction, enacted this year to stimulate local economies, is for individual travellers who spend on accommodation, food and drinks, as well as corporations that organise seminars and meetings at second-tier locations.
During the first nine months of this year, the most-visited second-tier provinces were Buri Ram (+8.4%), Phatthalung (+7.6%), Mae Hong Son, (+7.3%), Pattani (+7.3%) and Ratchaburi (+7.2%).
In a related development, the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) said the tourist confident index is expected to increase to nearly 100 points in the last three months of the year, up from 74 in the second quarter and 90-plus in the third quarter, as many foreign tourists plan to visit the country during the year-end high season.
TCT president Ittirit Kinglake said the council believes that Thailand will achieve tourism targets, aiming for revenue of 2 trillion baht from international markets and 1 trillion baht from domestic travellers.
Moreover, European tourists are expected to come to Thailand to celebrate the New Year during the first quarter of 2019 after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited Britain and France in June.
After the premier’s visit, European countries have shown support for Thailand to open more cross-border checkpoints to boost intra-regional tourism.
Last month, the TCT met with Japanese tourism officials from Hyogo in Kobe to discuss cooperation on hot springs development and exchange knowledge on community and environmental management.
Mr Ittirit said Thailand will remain the top destination for international visitors as airlines increase direct flights into Thailand, especially to Phuket, Krabi, U-tapao and Chiang Mai, during the coming peak season.