Sunday, September 21, 2008

Four foreign markets still look good for Thailand's tourism sector


The Tourism Authority of Thailand hopes to maintain healthy growth in foreign arrivals from India, China, Russia and Eastern European countries this year.

The visitors from these emerging markets are a main target for operators in the Thai tourism industry because of their high growth in the past few years.

The TAT expects Chinese tourists will become the largest foreign visitor market to Thailand in the next three years.

Governor Phornsiri Manoharn said the latest roadshow to three cities - Xian, Xiamen and Shenzhen - from Sept 10-12 helped lift confidence among Chinese tour operators and tourists.

The next promotional event will be the China International Travel Mart in Shanghai from Nov 20-23.

Previously, the TAT sought to increase the number of Chinese visitors to 1.3 million this year from 900,000 last year.

Immigration Bureau data showed the number of Chinese arrivals via Suvarnabhumi Airport in the first seven months of this year totalled 535,270, up 24% from the same period last year.

Sidivachr Cheewarattananaporn, president of the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association, said the association projected Chinese visitors this year would surpass last year's total.

But they would not likely meet the target set earlier at 1.5 million because around 60,000 Chinese tourists had already cancelled their trips to Thailand in the national holidays from Oct 2- 10 because of worries about local politics and security.

Mr Sidivachr said he was unsure whether they would change their mind now that the government has lifted the state of emergency in the capital because most had shifted their destination to Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand.

However, he said, most Taiwanese were moving ahead with plans to visit Thailand because they are less sensitive than their mainland counterparts.

The number of Taiwanese visitors via Suvarnabhumi Airport in the first seven months of this year totalled 237,164, up 6.3% from the year before.

Mrs Phornsiri said the TAT expected Indian visitors would meet the 20% growth target to 600,000 because they had kept the plans for Thailand unchanged.

The TAT took part in the India Travel Mart in Jaipur from Sept 5-7, in which about 100 sellers of Indian tours and hotel operators participated.

To improve confidence in the Eastern European market, Mrs Phornsiri said the TAT would take part in the Leisure Mart exhibition today and tomorrow in Russia, the Inwetex-CIS Travel Market from Oct 1-3 in St Petersburg, and the Ukraine International Travel Mart from Oct 7-9 at Kiev.

The number of Russian visitors to Thailand via Suvarnabhumi Airport in the first seven months totalled 174,706, up 59 % from the same period last year. The number of Eastern European visitors rose 12% to 52,249 in the same period.

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