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TAT upgrades arrival tally from India

BUSINESS: India’s decision to scrap a negative RT-PCR COVID test requirement for return travellers from Thailand from tomorrow (Feb 13) should accelerate the tourism recovery amid a sluggish Chinese market, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

By Bangkok Post

Sunday 12 February 2023, 02:57PM

Tourists take photos along Sino-Portuguese style shophouses in Phuket Old Town. Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran

Tourists take photos along Sino-Portuguese style shophouses in Phuket Old Town. Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran

The TAT upgraded its target for Indian arrivals from 1.4 million to 2mn this year, the same level posted in 2019, reports the Bangkok Post.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare of India issued the updated measures on Feb 9, eliminating pre-departure Covid test requirements for passengers coming from/via Thailand, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, based on a significant decline in COVID-19 cases in the last four weeks.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the end of a major travel restriction could mean the Indian market rebounds faster than expected, perhaps matching the 2019 tally of 2mn arrivals by year-end.

As of Feb 7, Thailand had received 2.58mn foreign visitors this year, of which 122,303 were from India.

The Chinese market, which lifted restrictions on independent travel from Jan 8, is resuming slowly this year, registering 119,807 travellers, lagging behind Malaysia, Russia, South Korea and India.

Mr Yuthasak attributed the slow growth of the Chinese market to limited seat capacity as airlines have to prepare for expansion and should be ready to add flights during their summer schedule.

The Chinese government allowed tour groups to resume overseas trips from Feb 6 and this market is forecast to see a significant improvement starting this month, he said.

Laguna Phuket 2023

The number of arrivals from China during Feb 1-7 was 28,727, overtaking the Indian market for fourth place in terms of source markets, as the latter registered only 20,960 visitors.

Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said the end of COVID-19 testing requirements in India happened earlier than expected and should create positive momentum for Phuket as more big tour groups will return soon.

He said this requirement affected large tour groups from India - particularly the Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) segment and wedding groups - as many of them cancelled bookings to avoid increasing costs from RT-PCR tests.

Mr Thaneth said the number of Indian tourists declined by 30-40% because of this policy last month.

According to Phuket Airport Immigration Daily Report, from Nov 1, 2022 to Jan 31, 2023 the Indian market ranked second with 87,660 arrivals, trailing the Russian market which tallied 267,245.

He said even during the mandatory testing for Indian travellers, independent tourists from that nation still visited Thailand as the added cost was considered acceptable.

In terms of tourist supply in Phuket, Mr Thaneth said the province should be able to cope with higher demand from the Indian and Chinese markets as arrivals from Russia typically peak during the cool season.

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