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Thais eye New Year trips in Asia
Publication Date : 16-10-2013
Thais are eager to go abroad during the New Year season - especially to Asian nations that don't require visas - after the government announced yesterday that the official holiday period would last five days, according to Suthiphong Pheunphiphop, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association.
The holiday period will run from December 28 to January 1. Although there are signs of a downturn in the economy and in consumers' spending power, he projected that more than 200,000 Thais would go abroad in the period, up 20 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau are expected to be their major destinations, as there are many packages available to these places. Charter flights to South Korea and Japan are also popular choices, Suthiphong said.
Suthiphong said travel operators had prepared services to cater to the outflow of Thai tourists. However, their business performance may not be as good as expected because most of the Thai travellers are likely to opt for short trips.
So far, forward booking for outbound tours during the New Year period is between 75 and 80 per cent, an increase of 20 percentage points over the same period last year. Suthiphong expected that bookings would soon be full, especially to Japan and South Korea. Japan in particular can expect to see the number of Thais gracing its shores in the period double thanks to Tokyo's recent granting of 15-day visa-free entry to Thais.
Suthiphong projected the total number of outbound tourists would reach 5 million this year, up from 4.5 million in 2012. Given that more travellers are opting for short-trip packages, however, total revenue would decline to 250 billion baht (US$9.8 billion) this year from 280 billion baht ($8.9 billion) in 2012, he said.