The domestic tourism market that has been slow almost throughout 2008 becomes more active in the final month of the year after the end of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airport seizures in early December. Among those factors supporting the revival in local tourism are:
- A 30-percent decline in oil prices in December 2008 that encouraged holidaymakers to travel more by private vehicles.
- The government's measures to facilitate travelers during the New Year holiday via higher frequency schedules for trains and inter-provincial buses and airline flights, plus a 50-percent reduction in inter-provincial bus fares, December 26-28, 2008, and a waiver on motorway tolls, December 29, 2008 to January 6, 2009.
- Decline in tourism-related service fees, especially at hotels in major tourist destinations that recorded lower occupancy rates due to a setback in inbound tourism, plagued by economic woes and domestic political unrest.
- Marketing campaigns jointly launched by tourism-related public and private agencies to promote domestic tourism to counterbalance low international tourist arrivals during tourism peak period by year-end. Among them were grand countdowns to the New Year hosted at 10 major sites in Bangkok, plus New Year's celebrations at major tourism attractions nationwide.
- A five-day long New Year holiday (including the weekend) announced by the government for December 31, 2008 to January 2, 2009.
KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) forecasts that Thai tourists traveling within the country during the New Year's festivities may total at least 2.6 million, a YoY increase of 8 percent. (‘Traveling of Tourists' herein excludes Thais returning to their hometowns, according to the definition of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.)
As for travel expense during this New Year holiday, it was found that the average spending per trip by tourists staying overnight and making a one-day trip might drop by some 3 percent and12 percent, YoY, respectively.
Lower tourist spending would have mainly been felt in general travel expenses due to a 30-percent decline in oil prices from a year ago. Accommodation expenses will likely drop in line with lower occupancy rates as part of marketing campaigns launched by several hotels and resorts at major tourist spots to attract Thai tourists during the downturn and after the airport seizures. Another factor would be the popularity of lower-priced accommodations at nature preserve tourist attractions such as national parks, home-stay tourism establishments, and at 2-and 3-star hotels amid the global economic recession.
Notably, travelers' spending on souvenirs such as local products and handicrafts recorded considerable decline due to the changing behavior of tourists who have become more frugal, concentrating more on natural scenic attractions.
Amid the more active domestic tourism during New Year holiday and lower tourist spending per trip, the total expenses of Thai tourists making domestic trips may record only moderate growth, compared to a year ago.
KResearch projects that some 2.6 million local tourists traveling within Thailand during the year-end festive season may generate around THB14.6 billion in revenue into various businesses, rising 4 percent, Y-o-Y.
Of this, around 28 percent, or some THB4.1 billion would go to accommodations at popular tourist attractions, e.g. –
- Seaside tourist spots, including those at the Andaman coastal provinces (Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga) and along the Gulf of Thailand (Samui, Chumphon and Prachuap Khiri Khan) as well as eastern seaside venues (Pattaya, Bang Saen and Trat).
- Mountainous attractions in the north (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son) plus those in the northeast (Loei, Khon Kaen, Phetchabun and Nakhon Ratchasima) Among the most favored venues there are Muak Lek and Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima and Khao Kho in Phetchabun, thanks to their relative proximity to Bangkok and the cool weather similar to the north and the upper northeastern region.
- Attractions at national parks: They including Khao Yai, Doi Inthanon and Pa Hin Ngam, where space for pitching tents has been doubled to accommodate a larger number of holidaymakers.
Small resorts where the room rates are moderate and can thus accommodate the rising number of travelers flocking to tourist venues that are popular with home-stay tourists, such as Wang Nam Khieo district.
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