Thursday, September 11, 2008

Foreign arrivals drop sharply due to political turmoil

Current political turmoil has already affected tourism both in the short- and medium-term, with the number of international arrivals having fallen by 70 per cent, according to the Thai Tourism Services Association.

Charoen Wang-ananont, association president, conceded the political standoff had directly impacted the tourism business. Earlier, the association had projected the tourism boom in the fourth quarter of this year, which is the high season of every year.

In particular, a large number of Chinese tourists are likely to make overseas trip in that season since most had stayed at home in their own country in the third quarter when the 2008 Olympic Games took place. However, almost all Chinese tourists had cancelled trips to Thailand upon concern over the ongoing political unrest.

He said the number of foreign tourists had so far fallen by 70 per cent and that of local tourists by 60 per cent with the hotel room occupancy dropping by 30-40 per cent.

Mr Charoen said what operators in the tourism sector want the new government to do urgently to ease the repercussion is to lift the imposition of the State of Emergency Decree immediately and unconditionally, and administer the country in a way that helps reduce national divisiveness.

He projected the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand would drop by 300,000 in the fourth quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, Thai Airways International president Apinant Sumanaseni said that the ongoing political unrest and the recent rallies by anti-government protesters to besiege several local airports had prompted many countries to warn their people not to visit Thailand.

It caused the number of THAI passengers, particularly from Asian countries such as China, Korea, and Japan, to drop by around 20 per cent, and that of passengers from Europe by 5-10 per cent in August.

Should the political unrest continued unabated, he said, it would definitely affect revenue and profits of the national flag carrier although global oil prices had dropped. (TNA)

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