Phuket Travel Agents Association is offering budget tour
packages in an attempt to lure Thais to travel within the country after
international tourist arrivals decline in the wake of the US-led war in Iraq
and the deadly pneumonia outbreak in the region.
Pattanapong Ekwanich, President of Phuket Travel Agents
Association said, “The war in Iraq crippled the travel business in the
resort province of Phuket. Twenty percent of hotel cancellations showed a
drop in numbers of European and Scandinavian tourists. Currently, the
average hotel occupancy accounts for only 50 percent.”
He said the association is targeting regional markets
such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, and Australia to
offset the lost revenue gained from European tourist arrivals.
However, transmission of the flu-like virus SARS reported
in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam has put off Thailand’s
road shows in those countries. Pattanapong revealed that they are taking
measures to iron out the problems in the short term and will promote
Thailand to attract local tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation
with Bangkok Airways, and The Thai Hotels Association offer a tourism
promotion campaign for tourists to visit the Andaman Sea region from April
16 to July 31. The package is expected to lure 7,000 tourists to Phuket and
earn the province about 35-45 million baht.
Wandee Changngam, assistant director of Club Andaman
Beach Resort Hotel’s Public Relations Department said that the occupancy
rate has fallen 30-40 percent. She said these figures are in line with those
of other five star hotels in Phuket.
“Now the war in Iraq does not adversely affect Thai
tourism industry as much as the outbreaks of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome),” Wandee said. (TNA)