As the global travel industry seeks to reopen after being traumatized by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, governments are seeking safe ways to rebuild lost revenues.
In the case of Thailand, the country plans to focus on affluent travelers. The reason is simple. Social distancing and lack of airline flights are reducing numbers. It means those who can spend more money when they visit the Southeast Asian nation are needed.
During an online seminar on “The New Normal For Luxury Destinations and Restaurants, a top government official disclosed the plan. Yuthasak Supasorn, the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said he expects to open the country to private jet travelers as part of its bubble strategy.
The bubble approach opens up air arrivals to visitors from countries that have low and declining levels of COVID-19 infections.
“We have the limitation of airlines, but luxury will be part of the new normal. Private jets will be a targeted group as a travel bubble,” according to the tourism boss.
With lower volumes, private jets allow pre-travel and on-arrival health checks. Of course, private jet travelers spend significantly more than those who arrive on the airlines.
Excluding fueling and airport fees, private jet travelers spend an average of $85,000 per visit.
While Thailand drew nearly 40 million visitors in 2019, the average amount spent per visitor was $156.
In other words, attracting one private jet arrival is equal to an airliner carrying 332 visitors.
Deepak Ohri, the CEO of Lebua Hotels & Resorts, with three Michelin stars between a dozen restaurants and bars at his flagship hotel in Bangkok, is bullish on the new approach. Last year the skyscraper, known for its alfresco rooftop venues, was voted the city’s best hotel by the readers of Travel + Leisure.
He said travelers will likely spend more time in Bangkok as a result of social distancing policies which will restrict the number of visitors at key attractions.
“The wealthy travelers have the time to spend extra time, and they have the money. It will be a much more leisurely experience. In many ways, for those who can afford it, it will be a better experience,” Ohri says.
Bangkok had nine fine dining views on Private Jet Card Comparisons’ 2019 worldwide list of Best Rooftop Restaurants.
Mayuree Chaipromprasith of Siam Pwiat, operator of several major luxury shopping malls, said business is recovering with domestic buyers. New protocols for staff and visitors mean the malls are ready to welcome international visitors again.
Thailand has been widely credited for its pandemic mitigation strategies. Despite the success, the World Bank estimates Thailand’s economy will contract by as much as five percent this year.
Yuthasak said he believes attracting UHNW private jet travelers could lead to future investment in Thailand as they are exposed to potential business opportunities. The country has a sophisticated manufacturing industry ranging from automobiles to computers, textiles, and jewelry.