TAT to foreign tourists: “Pay for a pool villa in Phuket instead of paying the energy bills”

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Thailand is hoping to capitalise on the rising cost of living in Europe and the US by urging tourists to leave home soil and escape the energy crisis in the west.

Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Yuthasak Supasorn said Thailand is targeting so-called ‘revenge spending’ from tourists who are looking to swap a bleak winter at home, both in terms of the weather and rising costs, for Thailand’s tropical weather.

Mr Yuthasak said that Thailand expects to see the tourists spend an average of 30 percent more per trip next year.

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Data from the TAT has shown that tourists in Thailand are already spending more now per trip than they were before the pandemic.

During the second quarter of this year, tourists spent an average of 55,000 THB per trip, an increase of 17 percent from the 47,000 THB average spend from before the pandemic.

Mr Yuthasak said he believes the high energy costs and cold weather back home will see westerners escape to Thailand.

“Save your money, lock your home, and come to Thailand. Pay for a pool villa in Phuket instead of paying the energy bills,” Mr Yuthasak told Thai media recently.

“We hope that with revenge traveling there will be a shift to revenge spending. They buy everything.”

In a bid to increase spending, the Thai government recently announced that it was offering longer stays to tourists from 70 different countries.

From Oct 1 to Mar 31, tourists eligible for visa-exempt entry to Thailand are permitted to stay in the country for 45 days, up from the previous 30 days.

Meanwhile, tourists eligible for the visa on arrival will be able to stay in the country for 30 days, up from the previous 15 day permitted under the scheme.

Approximately 6.5 million foreign tourists have visited Thailand so far this year, with tourism officials targeting up to 10 million arrivals before the end of the year.

In 2023, officials have said they expect tourism in Thailand to reach 80 percent pre-pandemic levels.

Prior to the pandemic, Thailand welcomed some 40 million foreign tourists, which generated approximately $62 billion in revenue.

Thailand’s tourism recovery will of course depend on how soon China reopens its borders and allows overseas travel for its citizens.

China’s zero COVID policy has meant that Chinese nationals have been unable to leave the country.

Pre-pandemic, some 12 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand annually, which accounted for the biggest source of foreign tourists to the country.

Mr Yuthasak said that China may start allowing overseas travel around the Lunar New Year festival that begins in late January.

Recent months have seen Thailand look to alternative markets, namely India and the Middle East, in a bid to make up for the lack of Chinese tourists.

Indian tourists now account for the one of the largest groups visiting Thailand, with the TAT hoping one million of them will visit the country this year.

The TAT has also targeted another demographic: young Japanese women into wellbeing, golf, and diving.

“I think that we are still the preferred destination for Japanese. We have quality-good products to deliver the memorable experience for them,” Mr Yuthasak said.

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