The Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has claimed double digit growth in corporate events and incentives traffic from India to Thailand in 2016 compared to the previous year. The Bureau expects further momentum in events and exhibitions traffic from India to Thailand in coming years riding on the rapidly improving direct air connectivity from Tier-II cities of India to Thailand.
Speaking to media at a Thailand MICE Corporate Networking event, Nitin Sachdeva, Head of TCEB Representation Office in India, said that the Bureau along with Team Thailand, comprising Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thai Airways, Embassy of Thailand in India, had been organising continuous seminars in Tier-II cities and engaging meeting and event planners about the opportunities and benefits of holding corporate events in Thailand, and getting the feedback that direct air connectivity from Tier-II cities can drive events to Thailand. He said that the response has been encouraging from Tier-II cities to which direct connectivity has been established with ‘Smile’, a subsidiary of Thai Airways.
As far as Visa facilitation is concerned, Sachdeva said that although procuring Thai Visa is quite easy and fast, they are expecting major announcements for more relaxed visa facilitation from the Thai authorities soon.
Speaking on the occasion, Sunil Kumar, Head of Sales – North India of Thai Airways, said that the airline along with its subsidiary, Smile, operate 79 frequencies from India offering 19,500 seats weekly from India which is sufficient capacity to support any size of groups. Also, all Indian schedules are synchronized such that guests arrive in Bangkok evenly.
He said that endeavour is to enhance the capacity in existing routes and add new Tier-II routes. He said that Thai Airways has utilised its existing bilateral capacity to metros and therefore would be looking at airports which are not part of the bilateral agreement. He said that Thai is looking at adding Amritsar and Ahmedabad to its operations, and Smile would be expanding to Kochi and Guwahati. “These airports fall under 18 city airports which are free from the bilaterals,” he said.
Talking about the Smile, he said that it is a hybrid model with all full-service facilities, ideal to operate to smaller cities where operations of a wide-bodied aircraft would not make commercial sense. “Our idea is to connect more Tier-II cities with our hub in Bangkok,” he said.
Asked about the load factors, he said that while national average is 75 to 80%, the load factors from Delhi and Mumbai are in excess of 80% despite having 19 and 10 weekly frequencies respectively from these cities to Bangkok.