Mr. Sutthipong said that this year’s figure of Thais visiting South Korea is expected to reach 330,000, compared to 400,000 last year. According to him, most of South Korea’s tourist attractions are suitable for a one-time visit and only able to draw out Thai travelers for once or twice. He also contributed the drop in the number of Thai visitors to Japan’s visa-waiving policy, adding that Japan is more diversified in terms of tourist attractions.
According to the TTAA President, Thai tourists view South Korea as a popular shopping destination with limited range of other activities, thus the nation’s tourism scene for Thais becomes saturated within a few years’ time.
Mr. Sutthipong said that the low tourist turnout also posts greater risk to low cost airlines operating between Thailand and South Korea, saying the termination of the route is very likely should the trend continue for the next 3-5 years. He added at the moment Japan offers a more lucrative market for low cost airline operators.
However, the TTAA president raised his concerns that the visa-waiving policy would attract low quality tour operators. He said he would meet Japanese officials to discuss measures to maintain the high standard tour service offered by local travel agents in Japan.