BANGKOK- The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is to collaborate with the Middle East big three airlines to help maintain a steady flow of visitor arrivals from some of Thailand’s highest-spending source markets.
During the recent Arabian Travel Market, TAT Governor Thawatchai Arunyik and a team of senior executives held back-to-back talks with executives of Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways to explore collaborative ways of maintaining the flow of visitor arrivals from these Gulf States.
Over the last few years, these airlines, along with others; such as, Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways, Royal Jordanian, and Turkish Airlines have played a major role in providing much-needed seat capacity via connections through their respective hub cities to Bangkok.
Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Executive Director of the Europe, Africa and Middle East Region, said, “TAT officials had been told by the Gulf airlines that they would maintain this capacity, in spite of the current political situation.
“Our main focus of attention at the Arabian Travel Market was to help the travel trade better understand the reality on the ground and stress the fact that the overwhelming vast majority of Thailand, including tourism attractions and transportation facilities, are open for business and operating normally.
“The TAT team personally visited all the airline pavilions to meet their senior executives and find ways of helping each other. All the airlines told us that Bangkok was one of their most important points in Asia, and that it was important for them to maintain their route profitability.”
He said that the main problem faced by the Thai tourism industry was the continuing travel advisories issued by various governments.
To combat this perception, Mr. Tanes said TAT and the Gulf airlines had agreed to undertake a series of familiarisation trips for media and travel agency representatives in the Gulf countries to help them see the situation for themselves and make their own decisions.
These trips will be operated over the rest of the year with each airline bringing in one group every quarter.
He also mentioned that although there had been a decline in visitor arrivals from the Gulf countries, TAT was hoping to make up for the shortfall in the coming months and end the year with the same number of arrivals as last year.
“Our main focus continues to be on the niche markets; such as, health and wellness, weddings and honeymoons. Gulf visitors are among the highest spenders per capita with an above average length of stay.”
As of the summer schedule 2014, there are 98 scheduled flights per week between Thailand (Bangkok and Phuket) and Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. This comprises Emirates (35 flights), Qatar Airways (35 flights), and Etihad Airways (28 flights)
Visitor arrivals from the Middle East countries totalled 171,323 in January – April 2014, tabulated by country of Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E. and others.