Thailand’s Travel Agents Express Concern Over High Airfares Potentially Dampening Songkran 2024 Holiday

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Festivals and Events, Popular Attractions | 0 comments

Travel agents in Thailand are voicing worries regarding soaring airfares and potential deflationary pressures on flights during Songkran 2024, despite the extension of this year’s water festival by an additional day. The Thai Government has promoted Songkran 2024 as a month-long festival.

Kriangphon Piyaekchai, vice president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, noted, “This holiday is no longer a peak season for travel as it was before the pandemic.”

With airfares at elevated levels during the aviation industry’s recovery phase, Mr Kriangphon pointed out that only those with significant financial means may be able to afford travel during Songkran, while others might opt for domestic excursions or await a decline in airfare prices.

For instance, a five-day tour package to Japan during the Songkran holiday now costs 40,000 baht, up from approximately 30,000 baht before the outbreak.

Many Thai tourists are apprehensive about potential deflation, which could lead to reduced spending on tourism activities, according to Mr Kriangphon.

Additionally, he highlighted a decrease in charter flights available during the Songkran period to meet outbound demand, contrasting the situation before 2019 when tour companies were eager to expand charter flight services.

Despite the recent extension of the Songkran holiday to five days by the government, Mr Kriangphon expressed scepticism about its potential to stimulate outbound tourism, as most travellers had already made their arrangements months in advance.

According to him, the majority of available outbound travel packages to Japan and South Korea have already been booked, while reservations for destinations like Vietnam and China are filling up. He noted that Thai travellers are particularly drawn to destinations offering greenery and cool weather, such as Sapa in Vietnam, Zhangjiajie, and Nanchang in China.

Mr Kriangphon also anticipated that vacation packages to China would benefit from the mutual visa exemption, allowing Thai tourists to enter the mainland without a visa from March 1.

Chaiyapruk Thongkam, head of the Association of Domestic Travel, estimated that 65% of Thai tourists would opt for domestic travel during Songkran, with half of them visiting their hometowns.

Mr Chaiyapruk suggested that instead of focusing solely on short-term events like the Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024, the government should concentrate on developing attractions to sustain tourism in the long run. This could involve addressing issues such as the PM2.5 crisis in the North and Northeast, which hampers travel to rural areas.

Furthermore, he proposed that authorities consider supporting tour operators, particularly those still grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic.

While Songkran remains a significant holiday in Thailand, concerns over high airfares and other factors may influence travel patterns during this period.

Follow-up Measures Announced by Thai Prime Minister to Enhance Tourism

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Srettha Thavis was eyeing another opportunity. In a bid to further bolster Thailand’s tourism industry, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin unveiled a series of measures aimed at attracting more visitors and stimulating economic growth. Addressing a government forum, he emphasised the importance of revitalising the tourism sector, which has been grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Thavisin highlighted plans to introduce incentives aimed at enticing global artists to perform in Thailand, envisioning events on par with the highly anticipated concerts of renowned musicians like Taylor Swift in Singapore. “We can bring A-listers and world-class acts to Thailand. This must be done,” he asserted.

 Among the initiatives outlined, the government intends to implement visa-free travel policies to facilitate easier access for tourists. Additionally, regulations concerning alcohol consumption at concerts will be revised, alongside adjustments to the operating hours of entertainment venues and the sale of alcohol.

Building upon existing efforts to attract visitors, Thailand has already waived visa requirements for citizens of countries like China and India. These measures are part of a broader strategy to rejuvenate the tourism sector, which saw a significant decline in foreign arrivals during the pandemic.

Despite challenges, Thailand remains optimistic about its tourism prospects. In 2023, the country welcomed approximately 28 million foreign tourists, marking a notable recovery from the lows experienced during the pandemic. With expectations set for about 34 to 35 million foreign visitors in 2024, the government is steadfast in its commitment to revitalise the tourism industry and drive economic growth.


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