Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thailand's foreign arrivals down 38%, says ATTA

The country's tourism industry is recording its biggest slump in 10 years in terms of foreign arrivals, if the number of visitors reported by the Association of Thai Travel Agents is anything to go by.

ATTA president Surapol Sritrakul yesterday said the number of foreigners arriving through its member companies had dropped by 38.28 per cent year on year to 867,267.

The number of South Korean tourists showed the biggest decline, falling 56.8 per cent to 55,442 arrivals, followed by Japanese tourists, which fell 47.84 per cent to 88,744.

The number of UK tourist arrivals was 41,419, down 41.49 per cent, while Chinese visitors totalled 113,727 (down 40.8 per cent) and Taiwanese 43,586 (down 37.84 per cent).

Surapol said the situation was however expected to improve over the rest of the year, as there was already a recovery in the number of forward bookings of tour packages from many markets, especially China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Iran.

Hotel bookings by Indian tourists in the first seven months inched up by 1.4 per cent year on year.

The ATTA had earlier predicted that the plight of the tourism industry would remain very serious until the end of next year.

Surapol said eight tourism associations would meet Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to discuss factors negatively affecting the sector, including the impact of the type-A (H1N1) flu and the security situation.

Anake Srishevachart, president of Thai-Japan Tourism Association, said his body would ask the Tourism Authority of Thailand to consider adjusting its marketing plan in order to attract more Japanese visitors.

The association wants the TAT to focus more on utilising media such as billboards in Japan to directly promote travel to the Kingdom, instead of focusing heavily on roadshows. Such advertising is expected to cost-effective and to yield better results than roadshows.

Moreover, the association wants the TAT to extend the period that elderly Japanese tourists are allowed to stay in Thailand to three months, from the present one month.

This category of Japanese visitors has high purchasing power, with an estimated average monthly income of Bt100,000, Anake said. They generally spend about Bt30,000 during one month of travel in Thailand.

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