Qatar Airways will launch flights between Doha and two key cities in Thailand, developments that are expected to drive travel, including from longer haul markets such as Latin America, to secondary Thai destinations.
Come December 13, the airline will commence four-times weekly flights between Doha and Chiang Mai. As well, from January 28, the airline will fly between Doha and U Tapao-Rayong Pattaya International Airport four times weekly, serviced by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Malinee Nitikasetsunthorn, director, The Americas market division covering North America and Latin America, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), believed the direct Chiang Mai flights would make it much easier to promote Northern Thailand to travellers from Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, where Qatar has direct, daily connections.
With TAT opening an office in Sao Paulo in 2018, this could be a dual boost for traffic from Brazil to Thailand, said Malinee. This will be TAT’s first dedicated office in Latin America.
As Chiang Mai is a longhaul destination, Malinee believed it would attract tourists with high spending power as well as niche segments such as luxury clients, honeymooners and couples celebrating their anniversaries.
Apart from Latin Americans, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the market of cultural, adventurous travellers from Europe could also grow.
He shared that a media fam trip to Chiang Mai from the Middle East, Europe and South America would accompany the launch, with top outbound agents from Oman invited as well.
Inbound agents interviewed believed the new flights would offer more opportunities to tap into different markets flying with Qatar Airways.
An inbound agent, Yves Van Kerrebroeck, managing director, Asian Trails based in Bangkok, said:“Traditionally quite a few European travellers start their programme in Bangkok before travelling to Chiang Mai and beyond, experiencing the cultural diversity and beautiful landscapes along the way. With this new direct flight there are increased possibilities to adapt the order of such itineraries, visiting areas such as the Golden Triangle, Sukhotai, Phitsanulok and Ayutthaya in a different sequence.”
Meanwhile, the launch of direct Doha-U Tapao-Rayong flights is expected to have an enormous impact on the region. Siam Royal View Resort, the largest mixed-use development on Koh Chang, expects the island in particular to benefit, citing the presence of a new ferry service close to the airport to Koh Chang.
As Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Chang has been already experiencing a steady increase in the number of visitors. This is likely to increase, now that the Thai government has rubber stamped its ambitious plans to spend millions on infrastructure along the Eastern Seaboard Corridor, the hotel stated.
In the 2010 -2015 period, there was an increase of over 220 per cent to over 1.1 million hotel registrations, and that’s not counting the number who stay in non-registered accommodation, it added.