In response to calls from tourism operators for a visa fee waiver to stimulate the market, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn has expressed caution. The main issue currently faced is the lengthy waiting period during visa application processing. Previous attempts at offering such waivers during the Covid-19 pandemic led to challenges in cutting tour package prices for the benefit of tourists, as the relevant authorities denied the scheme.
Tourism has been gradually recovering, but it is projected to achieve less than 50% of 2019’s peak level with around 10 million visitors. The slow recovery of the Chinese economy and flight shortages due to aircraft and maintenance issues are contributing factors. However, there is hope for increased visitor numbers during China’s “Golden Week” holiday in October as airlines plan to increase services to handle the surge in passengers.
In a bid to revitalize tourism, Thai Lion Air is set to launch six new routes to Chinese cities from August 15. Utilizing Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-900ER aircraft, the airline aims to boost travel options. Similarly, Thai AirAsia has shown promising signs with an average load factor of 80% on Chinese routes during the first half of the year. The airline plans to gradually resume routes to southern China and aims for a full recovery by year-end in terms of destinations and frequencies.