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Pandora’s Box Unleashed: Thai Tourism Authority Predicts Staggering Surge in Domestic Travel – An Economic Windfall or Ticking Time Bomb?

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is venturing into unchartered waters with an optimistic projection of a huge surge in domestic travel between July 28th and August 2nd. A stellar travel activity is on the horizon with predictions of an impressive five million voyages. This level of activity could infuse up to 16.6 billion baht into the country’s economy—an astronomical development that is sending ripples of immense excitement throughout the country.

Yuttasak Supasorn, the TAT Governor, made it known that this forecasted spike in domestic tourism during this unprecedented long holiday week might trigger hotel occupancy rates bouncing to a robust 63%. He observed during the first two days of this added holiday session, a noticeable amount of travel was directed towards destinations within 200-300 kilometres radius, as covered by the Bangkok Post.

The top brass at TAT indicated that these mighty tourist numbers could have easily surpassed current projections, had it not been for the relentless inflation and high fuel prices currently plaguing the country, forcing a majority of Thais to tighten their purse strings. “The turbulent economic landscape marked by high inflation and fuel prices, now on a downward trend but still relatively high, poses a significant hurdle.”

To stimulate an uptick in domestic tourism, the government smartly introduced the novel concept of a special holiday on July 31. However, typical of Thai style, the planning was done at the last minute. This, Yuthasak believes, could have backfired; had the extension been announced earlier, people might have been more inclined to pack their bags for overseas trips—Japan, for instance, is proving quite enticing for brief holidays given the yen’s current weak stance.

A string of special holidays was unveiled by the government last week, including a unique one off on July 31—an attempt to convert the coinciding holidays into an extended six-day weekend running from July 28 to August 2. Just two days back, TAT reported an expected substantial income of 16.6 billion baht from this lengthy public holiday period—an initiative passed by the Thai Cabinet to boost domestic travel.

The list of these extended public holidays incorporates the King’s Birthday on July 28, Asalha Puja on August 1 (a revered Buddhist holiday marking the Buddha’s first sermon), and Buddhist Lent Day on August 2. Eastern Thailand is set to have the lion’s share with an average occupancy rate topping 68%. However, central and northeast regions seem to be the preferred choice for most tourists, as the southern regions are off-peak due to monsoon rains making sea activities unfavorable, hence they attract fewer numbers, Yuthasak added.

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