Travel agents: Outbound tourists cut by half this year

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BANGKOK, 21 August 2012  – The Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) has revealed that the outbound tourist number is expected to be reduced by half this year, compared to last year’s.

According to TTAA President Suthipong Phuenphiphop , after the nation was hit by the devastating flood in 2011, the first quarter this year, which should have been a high season, saw outbound tourists nosedive. On an average, only 500,000 people travel overseas each month from January to July. He expected around 1.5-1.6 million people to travel abroad through Suvarnabhumi Airport this year, a big drop from the previous year, which saw about 2 million Thais flying outbound through the airport.

Mr Suthipong said outbound tour businesses were hard hit by the flood last year, as many tourists canceled their reservations but the companies had already paid deposits to airlines and hotels. As a result several smaller travel businesses had to shut their doors.

The TTAA President said the flood in 2011 created more impacts than did political problems, as all flood victims had to make rehabilitating their houses and businesses their first priority before thinking of going abroad for vacation; whereas political tensions tended to create stress, which resulted in more people traveling to other countries to relax.

According to Mr Suthipong, this year’s outbound tourists number has fallen to the lowest in the past five years, which will eventually lead to a price war given tour operators will go all out to attract customers; especially tours to nearby countries such as one to South Korea ,which costs as little as 10,000 baht. With that kind of price, holidaymakers probably won’t get their money’s worth as the entrepreneurs will likely allow tourists to spend most of their time shopping on their own.