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India pinpointed for TAT tourism bonanza

BANGKOK: Thailand should grant Indian tourists permission to visit after COVID infections on the subcontinent improved significantly, as pent-up demand is starting to flood into other countries, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

COVID-19CoronavirushealthtourismIndian
By Bangkok Post

Monday 30 August 2021, 10:45AM


Indian tourists throng Humayun’s Tomb. They are a major source market for Thai tourism. Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai / Bangkok Post

Indian tourists throng Humayun’s Tomb. They are a major source market for Thai tourism. Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai / Bangkok Post

The Indian market is forecast to have 21,000 tourists generating at least B938 million in the fourth quarter under a best-case scenario that assumes Indian tourists can access the Sandbox programme without quarantine, as well as commercial flights to six key cities resuming services, said Cholada Siddhivarn, director of TAT’s Mumbai office, reports the Bangkok Post.

At present, there are no commercial flights between the two countries as Thailand suspended certificate of entry (COE) issuance for Indian nationals since April, due to a spike in caseloads in India.

She said the Indian market was the third largest for Thai tourism in 2019 as it logged nearly 2mn tourists and B80 billion in receipts.

Arrivals plunged to 261,778 last year.

Indian tourists took 26.3mn outbound trips prior to the pandemic.

Indians have recently resumed overseas trips to the Maldives, Dubai and the UK as those destinations lifted restrictions excluding them from entry.

The Maldives has welcomed 103,195 Indian arrivals, comprising its second largest market for the first seven months this year.

The TAT is particularly keen on attracting high-spending Indian visitors, as its survey of 300 travel agents suggested 34% want to promote Thailand packages to mid-market customers, while 27% plan to target the luxury segment. Only 24% of travel agents surveyed wish to promote packages to the budget segment.

“We used to have more than 300 flights per week connecting Bangkok and Phuket with New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore,” said Ms Cholada.

“If airlines are ready to serve the Phuket route, we can definitely persuade this market to return this year.”

She said the crucial factor is quarantine-free entry because 80% of Indian arrivals stay less than seven days.

The TAT survey also indicated 94% foresee travel demand to Thailand and 61% plan to promote packages for the mid-level to luxury markets.

Vachirachai Sirisumpan, director of TAT’s New Delhi office, said India has accelerated its vaccinations to 600mn doses, with 10.3% of the country’s 1.4bn people now fully inoculated.

In key cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, new infections are fewer than 600 per day according to recent reports, he said.

One advantage of having India as a source market is its government has not imposed a travel ban to Thailand, meaning tourists are not required to stay in quarantine when they return home.

Since Aug 25, Thailand is allowing only business travellers and those with family members here to submit COE applications.

Mr Vachirachai said this is a good start, with the next step targeting tourists.

He said a major challenge is educating the Thai public, as there is a misleading perception that India is overwhelmed by COVID cases based on the situation months earlier.

The TAT has to make Thais better understand the current environment in India, said Mr Vachirachai.

Ms Cholada said Indians continue to make inquiries with the TAT about planning wedding ceremonies during November to January.

Each year, Thailand organises roughly 300 Indian weddings, which cost at least B5-6mn per wedding, with 200 guests attending each event.

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