Thai AirAsia to begin major push to lure back tourists

Corporate March 18, 2014 00:00

By Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit
The N

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Joint effort with regional network for return of steady flow into Kingdom

Thai AirAsia is preparing to work with the AirAsia network regionally to promote Thailand more aggressively to revive a stable flow of foreign tourists into the Kingdom after it was hit by prolonged political turmoil, while in the process meeting its cabin-factor projection of 84 per cent this year.
The Thai unit is working in cooperation with AirAsia’s offices in other jurisdictions including the Philippines and Malaysia, and also its marketing offices in Hong Kong, mainland China, Indonesia and Singapore. Major markets are the primary focus, concentrating on mainland China, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Santisuk Klongchaiya, director of commercial affairs at Thai AirAsia, said the carrier would work even harder in the remaining months 
of the year to achieve its goal. Regional media outlets will be exploited via campaign promotions and familiarisation trips would be organised, inviting journalists to witness peaceful tourism scenes across the region. 
The message to be delivered is that Thailand still has many places to explore, outside the capital city. 
Since political tension started late last year in Bangkok and escalated after the government declared a state of emergency, the airline has faced a drop of foreign passengers. Its cabin factor this quarter has declined to 80 per cent, against 84-85 per cent in the first three months of last year. 
The number of Chinese passengers has decreased 10-20 per cent year on year. Santisuk said mainland China was the major market on which the campaign would focus with the hope of restoring tourists’ confidence. Singapore and Hong Kong are also targeted because arrivals from those two markets have been hit hard by travel warnings issued by their governments. 
However, the state of emergency is still a main enemy of the tourism industry. Santisuk said that if the decree is lifted in the near future, it will be boon to tourism. The hope 
is for a revival during the low season in the second and third quarters, especially next month’s Songkran Festival. 
If the campaign is a success, Thai AirAsia’s cabin factor in the next two quarters will be better than last year. And if the situation returns to normal, the cabin factor in the fourth quarter may reach 90 per cent. 
Given easing political tensions, Thai AirAsia X, the country’s first medium- and long-haul low-cost carrier, is expected to launch its first flight in the second quarter. 
An official announcement will be made in the near future. 
Yesterday, the carrier joined with Counter Service Co to offer easy access to AirAsia tickets across the nation, the first to offer international flights through the system. The airline hopes this new collaboration will expand its sales distribution channels and increase passenger traffic. Currently, online sales make up 75 per cent of the total. Counter Service is expected to contribute 3-5 per cent of offline sales.