Ahead of Thailand’s reopening for fully vaccinated travellers in November, The tourism authority is bullish to promote the destination with the likes of different promotional campaigns. Talking about the immediate plan of action, the TAT New Delhi Director said that his main priority at the moment is to have a direct flight started between the two countries at the earliest possible. Here are excerpts from the interview:
ETTravelWorld (ETTW): What kind of response TAT is receiving on the sandbox programme?
Vachirachai Sirisumpan (VS): The response to the sandbox programme has been good and tourist inflow has gradually picked up under the same. Phuket opened to travel under the sandbox programme on July 1 and until October 13, it had received 46,621 international tourists. While concerns on travel restrictions and the complete opening up of tourist places continue to remain, people are slowly shedding their inhibitions and travelling to Thailand. At TAT, we are very clear about the information we communicate to the media, and we believe in complete transparency, so I am glad to share that things have started to warm up and with the quarantine restriction going down to 7 days instead of 14, the tourism scenario looks positive for the future.
ETTW: What are the promotional and marketing plans of the authority to attract Indian travellers and keep Thailand as the ‘top of the mind’ destination?
VS: Our main priority at the moment is to have a direct flight started between the two countries at the earliest possible. We are pushing for connectivity to open and are hopeful that by November, flight operations will start between India and Thailand. We will then go for a promotional campaign for which we have started segmenting our tourism sectors and will be promoting each of them in a planned manner. We would be starting our promotions with the weddings segment as many couples still have Thailand on their mind when it comes to the unique customised wedding experience. This will be followed by promoting Golf in Thailand and then others will follow suit.
ETTW: Is the Visa on arrival (VOA) facility now available for Indian travellers?
VS: Yes, the Visa on Arrival facility is already effective for Indian travellers entering Thailand. However, all travellers currently need to apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE) before their travel to Thailand. We hope that going forward some progress would be made with regards to easing up the restrictions of inbound travellers.ETTW: Are there any plans to impose a Tourism fee of 500 Baht from 2022?
VS: Nothing concrete has been decided on the same yet.
ETTW: What are your expectations from the Indian market amidst gradual reopening?
VS: India, always, has been an extremely important source market for us. It holds a prominent position in the list of top five important markets for Thailand and our expectations, including that of our head office, are always high where India is concerned. In 2019, India was the fastest and the largest growth market for us wherein we received close to 2 million Indian tourists. This figure marked a 24.85 per cent growth in Indian arrivals as compared to 2018. With all the support from the travel trade fraternity in India and also as a result of our independent surveys, we do hope that India will be one of the fastest-growing markets for us and we will see good traffic from the destination once things open up and restrictions ease up.