Expensive flights to Thailand from bigger cities in China are delaying Thailand’s tourism recovery. Most tariffs are still one and a half times more than pre-pandemic prices, while for smaller cities, fares are more than double previous levels

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn, while most tickets are cheaper than last year, prices for March and April are still higher than before the pandemic in every Chinese city.

Prices of flights from major cities in the mainland are 1.5 times higher, with prices from Shanghai as high as 24,500 baht (US$690). Ticket prices to and from smaller cities are still around double the previous rates, and direct flights are still hard to come by from most transit hubs.

With passenger flow of passengers still weak in the first two months, the number of seats from eastern China, such as Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Hebei, amounted to 17,000 per week, with more than 10 airlines operating flights to Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Of that number, 10,000 came from Shanghai.

The promise of direct flights from southern China to Hua Hin has yet to be realised.

Yuthasak claims that it is difficult for tour operators to offer low-cost tours because of the operating costs.

As Chinese tourists’ preferences have shifted from mass tours to individual trips or tailor-made tours, low-cost tours are proving unpopular, he said. Post-pandemic, individual trips by Chinese travellers dominate the market, with mass tour groups, becoming a thing of the past dominated by low-spending small-town residents.