Free domestic flights are among a series of tourism promotional measures the government plans to introduce by mid November, to boost foreign visitor numbers to Thailand during the remainder of the year.
Deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the measures were aimed at attracting foreign visitors globally, and not just from China. The government must sustain growth in the tourism industry because it was still uncertain whether global trade tensions would have a spill-over effect on tourist numbers to Thailand, he said.
The crucial Chinese market to Thailand has declined following a tour boat capsize off Phuket in July that saw 47 Chinese tourists killed, and the government has been working since to restore safety confidence among Chinese travellers.
The promotional measures planned are free air tickets to second-tier tourism provinces for tourists who plan to visit both first-tier provinces such as Phuket and Chiang Mai and second-tier provinces, a reduction or total waiver of the THB 2,000 (USD 60) visa-on-arrival fee for the 21 countries it is available to, and a tax measure for buying jewellery.
Somkid said the measures should be in place by 15 November and run through to the year end.
In the first nine months of this year, international visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 28.5 million, up 8.7 percent over the 2017 January-September period. Revenue increased 11 percent to nearly THB 1.5 trillion (USD 45.98 billion).
The kingdom received a record 35.38 million international visitor arrivals in 2017, with tourism income generated amounting to THB 1.8 trillion (USD 55.18 billion).