People throng the Thai International Travel Fair 2018, held recently in Bangkok. SOMCHAI POOMLARD

Hundreds of travel companies are set to launch heavily discounted packages called “Pro Fai Mai” to boost outbound tourism this year.

The name refers to fire sales, a term for when goods are sold at a deep discount because of a fire or other emergencies.

Adith Chairattananon, vice-president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said extra-cheap Pro Fai Mai tour packages will be offered throughout the year to increase business during the low-season periods.

Mr Adith said tour operators generally offer such extreme discount packages during three low-season periods of the year: from mid-January to mid-March; from May to June; and in November.

“These three periods are the low season for the travel business and force operators to deal with tougher competition,” he said.

The Pro Fai Mai tour package became more popular among Thai tourists two years ago when travel operators who could not sell out packages were forced to cut prices 3-5 days ahead of the scheduled travel.

Normally, a fully-booked tour package consists of 35 travellers, but some programmes may fall short of participants, forcing operators to offer fire sales. This marketing tactic can help them to survive, despite low margins.

Mr Adith said the Pro Fai Mai strategy is mainly applied to the outbound market, focusing on destinations that do not require visa applications such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

TTAA said a number of tour operators are displaying heavily discounted tour packages on their websites and online channels.

For example, a four-day, three-night package to Japan is being offered for 20,000-25,000 baht per person, compared with 40,000-50,000 baht per person during peak season.

A four-day, three-night package to Taiwan is priced at 15,000 baht, down from 25,000 baht, while a package to South Korea was cut from 20,000 baht to just 10,000 baht this year.

He said Pro Fai Mai tours mainly target seniors and young tourists as they are more influenced by prices. These packages offer the same service to everyone in the group tour.

Mr Adith said the promotions will not damage other travel businesses such as travel companies and airlines because they also offer promotions in the low season, but remain profitable during peak seasons.

But he admitted some people may wait to buy cheap travel programmes at the last minute.

TTAA statistics show 8 million Thais travelled abroad last year. The association predicts 9 million will join overseas trips this year.

Popular destinations for Thais include Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.

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