November 21, 2011 00:00 By Suchat Sritama The Nation 7,930 Viewed
With the impact of the severe flooding on the tourism industry estimated at Bt70 billion, international and local tourism organisations are discussing ways of protecting the sector against future disasters.
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) will host a meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday(Nov 23) focusing on the impacts of the flood crisis and ways to rebuild the tourism industry.
According to Suraphon Svetasreni, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the tourism sector has suffered huge damage and total losses are put at Bt70 billion.
Thai Airways International (THAI) has cancelled more than 500 domestic and international flights due to falling passenger numbers.
Piyasvasti Amranand, president of THAI, said tourism from China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Europe had plunged due to negative travel advisories.
THAI’s average load factor – the percentage of seats occupied – dropped from 74 per cent in October last year to 65.8 per cent last month.
NOK AIR SUFFERS LOSSES
Meanwhile, THAI’s sister airline, Nok Air, has experienced a loss of Bt40-50 million due to the closure of Don Mueang Airport on October 25.
Piyaman Tejabaibun, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the council would ask government and private organisations to support its three recovery measures: establishing a Bt400 million recovery fund; special assistance worth Bt4 billion; and an loan scheme for affected small and medium-sized enterprises worth Bt1 billion.
Assistance with marketing and cost-reduction plans are also being prepared.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents last week proposed that TAT launched a special competition to promote tourism after the crisis, with the winner being awarded valuable travel packages.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet approved a special additional budget of Bt450 million for the ongoing construction of Chiang Mai Convention Centre, which is expected to be completed in January and begin hosting events in September next year.
Since the flooding reached Bangkok a few months ago, 250,000 business travellers have stayed away, translating into a loss of Bt3.3 billion, according to the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.