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Exclusive: Despite air woes, Aussie travel to Thailand could soon surpass pre-pandemic levels

Aussie travellers’ love affair with Thailand has been reignited, if 2023 visitor numbers so far are anything to go by.

Aussie travellers’ love affair with Thailand has been reignited, if 2023 visitor numbers so far are anything to go by.

Speaking to Karryon at the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s recent “Living Green. Living Thai.” event in Sydney, TAT Sydney Director Busakorn Prommanot said authorities were hoping to attract 650,000 Australian visitors to Thailand in 2023. 

And they’re confident of reaching that figure, which is just short of the roughly 700,000 Aussie travellers who visited the country pre-pandemic. 

According to Prommanot, in the first six months of 2023, Thailand welcomed around 350,000 Aussie travellers, which is nearly 55 per cent of its annual target. And half of its pre-COVID levels.

More flights please

Thailand TAT Sydney
Addressing guests at the Living Green. Living Thai. event

But things would look even better if there were more direct flights to the country, the director said.

Where before Thai International Airways used to fly from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth (to Bangkok) as well as Sydney to Phuket, Thailand’s national carrier now only flies ex-SYD and MEL. Additionally, there are no non-stop flights at all between New Zealand and Thailand. 

While TAT continues to work closely with other carriers like Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, more direct flights would boost travel to the country even further.

In 2019, Australia was entrenched as one of Thailand’s top four or five visitor markets, and although Aussies are returning to the Southeast Asian nation en masse, Australia still sits in around 11th or 12th position, says Prommanot.

Sustainability push

But Thailand isn’t just looking to boost overall visitor numbers – it also wants to encourage more long-term, sustainable tourism. 

Enter initiatives like the Living Green. Living Thai. event, which showcased some of Thailand’s sustainable food projects as well as other eco-friendly programs. 

According to Prommanot, TAT understands that an increasing number of Australians are seeking to travel more responsibly, which is a sentiment it wants to nurture.  

To this end, TAT is working with companies like Intrepid Travel and G Adventures on creating greener programs. 

The authority is also co-operating with hotels with green initiatives, such as “one booking, one tree” policies, Prommanot added.  

If Aussie travel trends to Thailand continue, there could be many, many more trees planted.

Late last year, the Thai government announced it would be investing five billion baht (more than AU$210 million) in boosting medical tourism to Phuket as it seeks to become an international medical tourism hub.

For more information on TAT, click here.