AviationAirlines, many still shy of flying, keep international arrivals in check.

More than anything, Thailand wants planes for Christmas

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Airline capacity into Thailand is only at 14% of 2019 levels.
Airline capacity into Thailand is only at 14% of 2019 levels. Photo Credit: gettyimages/pat138241

Thailand’s Test & Go scheme seeking to attract international tourists has the potential to reboot the kingdom’s tourism industry, but barriers to entry remain high, according to new reports.

For air travel data specialist OAG, the lack of international flight connections will keep inbound tourism numbers in check.

For management consultants McKinsey and Co, the chances of virus recurrence, slow long-term growth, muted world recovery, and minimal changes to global tourism strategies, will see Thailand’s tourism sector only recover to pre-crisis levels in 2024.

In January 2022 there are only 77 airlines with scheduled capacity to Thailand, compared to 129 in January 2019.

Among carriers ramping up operations are Singapore Airlines, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Finnair, those “spotting an opportunity or just needing somewhere to place their idle aircraft”.

“Either way, Thai tourism doesn’t seem to be out of the woods any time soon,” OAG says.

OAG figures show that in December 2019, there were five million scheduled airline seats into and out of Thailand. In December this year, there are 682,000, just 14% of the former volume.

The biggest single loss is China where there were 1.1 million airline seats previously and currently virtually none.

“But it’s not just China. All the major airline markets are operating at a fraction of their previous levels and the other Top 10 origin markets have between 7% and 25% of the capacity scheduled this December that operated in December 2019,” OAG notes.

The impact on the Thai tourism sector due to reduced airline capacity during the pandemic is revealed in McKinsey and Co figures that show international travellers made up 33% of overall travellers in Thailand in 2019 yet accounted for almost 60% of all tourism spending – international tourists spent US$1,543 per traveller on average, compared to US$152 by domestic travellers.

The top three spending categories for inbound visitors that year being in accommodation (28%), shopping (24%), and food and beverages (21%).

And despite recent promotional efforts to encourage domestic travel, Thailand’s total revenue from domestic travel still saw a significant dip. The country’s revenue from domestic travel dropped from US$34.5 billion to US$15.4 billion in 2020.

McKinsey and Co believes, however, that Thailand is heading in the right direction even as the world addresses emerging variants of the virus.

“Thailand’s lessons can act as a guide for other tourism-dependent countries facing similar dilemmas as they prepare for the resurgence of international travel,” the company says.

Thailand’s Test and Go: How it works:

The fact that arrivals no longer need to quarantine is not the same as removing all restrictions. Travellers can qualify for the new system if they are fully vaccinated and have a certificate for one of the approved vaccines.

They must also book a hotel on arrival for at least one night and have pre-arranged transport from the airport to the designated hotel. The one-night hotel package must include a PCR test and antigen test. There are 50 hotels listed as taking part in the scheme in Bangkok.

In addition, travellers must have downloaded the Thailand Pass QR code, must be arriving by air, must have had a PCR test within 72 hours of travelling and must have Covid insurance.

Source: OAG

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