Some 10 million Thais are expected to make overseas trips next year. PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

Some 10 million Thai tourists are expected to travel abroad next year, up from an estimated 9 million this year, says the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA).

The key factors driving the growth are more attractive tour packages offered by travel companies and affordable airfare, especially from low-cost carriers operating in and around Thailand, said Thanapon Cheewarattanaporn, the association’s president.

The top destinations for this year among Thai travellers are the same as last year: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Southeast Asia and Europe. Last year, some 8.7 million Thais made overseas trips, spending 276 billion baht.

For this year, expenses for outbound trips will reach 300 billion baht, Mr Thanapon said.

“Outbound trips from Thailand will expand by 5% next year,” he said.

The cost of travelling to areas such as Japan, Taiwan and Eastern Europe is 30% lower than to the US and Western Europe, which makes the former destinations more attractive.

For example, the average cost of a four-day package to Western Europe starts at 50,000 baht, compared with only 30,000 baht for a similar package to Japan or China. The result is that Thai tourists choose holiday destinations in Asia, Mr Thanapon said.

Although outbound tourism is growing, operators are not really happy with revenue and profit because of tough competition, he said, and many have reduced rates to survive.

As of Nov 4, Thai Travel Centre, a tour operator, has slashed prices of a five-day, three-night package to Japan during December to 22,999 baht, down from 29,999 baht. The offer includes seven meals, hotels and airfare on Thai AirAsia X.

Another operator, Hilight World Tour, offers various packages to Osaka in Japan starting from 18,765 to 34,999 baht. The packages run from today until the end of March 2019.

Mr Thanapon said more than 800 travel operators are members of the TTAA. More than half operate across Asia; the rest cover Europe and other continents.

To increase income, tour operators, airlines and hotels should resist the temptation to engage in a price war, he said. If they only offer low prices, tourism-related companies will face even more difficulty in the long term, he warned.

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