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Passengers with protective masks board their flight to Shanghai at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. -AFP
Passengers with protective masks board their flight to Shanghai at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. -AFP

WITH THE Thai tourism industry expected to be dragged down over the next several months over concerns of the Covid-19 outbreak, airlines are now slashing ticket prices to help boost domestic tourism.

Thai Airways International (THAI) is now partnering with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to offer discounts such as free domestic tickets to international tourists.

Apart from this, low cost carriers plan to focus on local tourists opting for domestic travel as there is a limited number of outbound choices that are free from the virus.

Thai AirAsia is providing 100 baht (RM13.3) discounts for any domestic routes within a designated period, while Nok Air is offering one way ticket prices for domestic routes starting from 680 baht (RM90.6) this month.

The Bangkok Post said that Vietjet Air has also marked down all routes across Thailand by 50 per cent.

As the outbreak spreads to more countries, Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) believes the impact from the virus outbreak will last longer than six months, and that the losses will be larger than TAT's projection of 250 billion baht (RM33.3 billion).

TCT president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn said operators were ready to comply with stimulus plans from the authorities to secure at least 36 million international tourists this year.

“But the government has to think and act faster than this, or most businesses will collapse because of the impact," he added.

TAT deputy governor of marketing communications Tanes Petsuwan said the THAI-TAT collaboration - Amazing Flight, Amazing Thailand - will be launched next month at ITB Berlin 2020, one of the biggest trade shows in Europe, for travel during May to October.

Under the six month campaign, THAI will offer 10,000 tickets to Thailand to international tourists with at least a 20 per cent discount, plus a round trip ticket for a domestic route operated by THAI or THAI Smile Airways.

"We'll start with 10,000 tickets. If the feedback is good TAT will talk with THAI about increasing the number of sale tickets," said Tanes.

The project has a budget of around 30 million baht (RM4 million), and it expects to stimulate tourists spending of around 500 million baht (RM66.7 million).

Meanwhile, Nok Air and Nokscoot airlines have embarked on cost cutting measures amid a severe economic situation and the virus outbreak.

NokScoot airline issued a statement that 11 pilots and 36 cabin crew were told to leave the company, while Nok Air axed four pilots.

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