The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said Thai tourism could make a stronger rebound if e-visas are adopted and international flights are resumed now that tourists from Malaysia became the first source market to reach a million and more countries are set to reopen.
TAT Deputy Marketing Governor for Asia Thanet Phetsuwan said the tourism sector’s strong growth would be boosted by some countries’ reopening. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan are expected to reopen their borders this year’s last quarter.
In addition, increased tourist demand may stimulate the number of flights and seat capacity, addressing the lack of seats, an obstacle that has impeded recovery.
The move would also strengthen the short-haul market after the rapid reopening and active resumption of flights allowed India and South East Asia to lead the way to recovery in this year’s first eight months.
The latest tourism-related reports showed the biggest growth was in the Malaysian market, especially among travelers passing through Songkhla’s border checkpoint. The group represented more than 400,000 of the total 1 million tourists who traveled from Malaysia.
To mark the key milestone in post-Covid recovery, the TAT plans to hold a celebration in Kuala Lumpur called “1 million thanks.”
According to Mr. Thanet, India could be the next market to hit the million mark as more airlines hope to add new routes to second-tier cities. Also, 561,656 tourists from India have visited Thailand so far.
Meanwhile, the travel sentiment tracker by India’s Business Travel Trade agency showed momentum getting stronger in the latest quarter, with Thailand being the top short-haul destination for tourists at 66%.
Mr. Thanet said that as recent traffic to the kingdom shows, all Asian countries except China have resumed. Around 6.5 million of the 10 million international tourists arriving this year are expected to come from Asia.
However, the inconvenient entry process and tedious visa application are obstacles for tourists.
TAT’s deputy governor for marketing said tourists were not worried about the visa fee but about the inconvenient process, with many opting to get the document on arrival and facing long queues at airports.
Previously, Thailand had tried electronic visa applications in China, but the test was interrupted by the pandemic.
However, Mr. Thanet believes that restarting the application system would soon give the tourism industry a better boost. He also said that Indian tourists faced similar problems.