March 28, 2023
BANGKOK – As many as 96,389 Saudi tourists visited Thailand last year, an immediate dividend of the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries in January last year, ending over three decades of coldness.
Saudi Arabia’s relations with Thailand broke down due to the “Blue Diamond Affair” in 1989, after a Thai worker stole Saudi royal jewels.
The jewellery heist and the subsequent murder of a Saudi diplomat angered Riyadh, leading to a ban on its citizens from travelling to Thailand, except for medical treatment, business negotiations and government affairs.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the agency is making efforts to attract Saudi tourists as they have high purchasing power and usually travel as families.
He added that Saudi tourists often travel to Thailand to receive medical treatment.
“Popular destinations for Saudi tourists are Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Phang Nga and Krabi,” he said.
He said 96,389 Saudi tourists had visited Thailand last year, generating more than 8 billion baht in revenue.
He added that Thailand had already welcomed 20,693 Saudi visitors from January 1 to March 12 this year.
“All thanks to Thai Airways International [THAI] joining hands with Saudia, a Saudi Arabian airline, to operate direct flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Thailand,” he said.
He added that Saudia would increase Jeddah-Bangkok flights from seven per week to 11. He added that Saudia would launch flights from Jeddah to Phuket between May and June.
He expects 150,000 Saudi travellers to visit Thailand this year, generating more than 12 billion baht in revenue.
To attract Saudi visitors, Yuthasak said TAT would organise a road show in three Saudi cities — in Jeddah on May 7, in Riyadh on May 9 and in Dammam on May 11.
“This road show aims to stimulate tourism after Ramadan,” he said.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims worldwide undertake fasting. This year’s Ramadan started on March 22 and is expected to end on April 20.
He said the TAT would participate in the event “Arabian Travel Market 2023” in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from May 1 to 4.
He added that the TAT would join hands with THAI and Saudia to launch online marketing campaigns to attract Arab millennials and free independent travellers from Saudi Arabia.
He also expected Saudi Arabia’s move to establish its new national airline, “Riyadh Air”, on March 12 to result in positive sentiment for Thai tourism.