Less Charter Flights from Finland to Krabi Sparks TAT’s Concern

Decrease in the growth rate of number of visitors from North Europe this year has sparked concerns from both Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). TAT says that its office in Europe reported that tour operators have shifted their focus from having charter flights from Finland to Krabi to having charter flights from Finland to Langkawi, Malaysia.  The two organizations are working together on strategies to win back the number of Scandinavian tourists.

Mr. Sittiwatch Chewarattanaporn, the president of ATTA, reveals that the number of tourists from January to 20 August this year has increased by 7.9 percent, representing over 2.2 million tourists from all over the world.

However, the growth rate of number of tourists from Europe has increased by only 0.09 percent. The growth rates of number of tourists have in fact been decreased in some countries like Germany by 6 percent, Iran by 4 percent, Russia by 2.6 percent. TAT’s most concern is for the North Europe market where the growth rate has decreased by 15 percent.

Ms. Juthaporn Rueng-asa, TAT’s Deputy Governor of the European market, Africa, Middle East and America, has expressed her concern that the number of tourists from North Europe could be less this high season due to less charter flights from Finland to Krabi. The TAT office in Europe reported to her that this year there are many charter flights from Finland to Langkawi in Malaysia.

Though a day trip to Tarutao and Lephe islands from Langkawi is still available in a travel package, European tourists are not likely to spend as much since they don’t need an accommodation for a day trip. The main income from tourists will only come from an entrance to the country’s national parks.

TAT suggests Thai travel-related business operators to focus more on exclusive tour groups from Europe. The average duration per stay of a European visitor is 14 days per visitor, meaning that European tourists tend to spend more than average.

TAT also suggests the businesses to pay attention to small tour operators that they should not offer their sales promotions only to big tour operators because many of small tour operators focus on exclusive upmarket group tours from Europe.

Mr. Sittiwatch Chewarattanaporn says that the government should also take part in this problem and that they need to work together to understand why the tour operators in Europe shift their focus to Malaysia so that they can find a proper strategy to attract more tourists to Thailand.

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