November 10, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

With direct flights between Australia and Thailand starting early next month, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is gearing up to put business events back on the radar of Australian and New Zealand event planners.

Thai Airways direct services between Australia and Phuket start on December 8 and Qantas Sydney to Bangkok services will resume on January 14, 2022, more than two months earlier than scheduled.

Representing TCEB, Nicole Tingey of Clockwise Consulting says the introduction of new direct services between Sydney to Phuket with Thai Airways holds enormous appeal.

“Initially these flights will service the leisure market, which will in turn create confidence for the business events market to consider off-shore destinations like Thailand for their events,” she said.

“Many planners are familiar with the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ initiative which effectively created a destination ‘bubble’ with high vaccination levels of locals and an early introduction of international travellers in 2021.”

This resumption of flights and the new Thai Airways direct service is good news for TCEB which has launched a new incentive campaign to attract business events.

It is called the “SMILE” campaign and offers financial support including bonuses for incorporating sustainable elements into an event.

“Many Thai suppliers are participating to provide value-added support for business events in 2022,” says Tingey.

Tingey believes that direct flight access was key. Point-to-point travel means there is minimal time spent in transit.

“This is why the new direct flights to Phuket hold so much appeal.”

She said their first groups travelling from Australia to hold their conference in Bangkok are in May 2022 and to Phuket in July and August 2022.

Asked about concerns around COVID or cancellations, Tingey says that Thailand had been on the front foot of reopening since early 2020. As Thailand had now opened up to selected international destinations and restrictions on business events had eased, they’d be well-practiced in managing both the movement of delegates and the facilitation of events.

“I think this has created a sense of confidence amongst those planners considering Thailand as early as 2022.”

She says through TCEB they’d been working with suppliers to ensure they understood the concerns and expectations of groups travelling out of Australia and New Zealand for business events.

Tingey says they were working on site inspections for early January 2022 for incentive group travel in August 2022. She said she would also be able to assist clients with their requests for support through the new SMILE campaign.