BANGKOK, July 1 (Reuters) – Thailand may see a drop of up to 20 percent in tourist arrivals this year due to the global economic slowdown and domestic political unrest, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said on Wednesday.
However, the industry is expected to recover in the first quarter of next year, as long as the global and domestic economies recover and the H1N1 flu outbreak is contained, university economist Thanavath Phonvichai told a news conference.
‘The industry still has to face problems throughout the year. There are no bright signs yet and we may have to wait for the second stimulus package,’ he said.
The government plans to spend 1.43 trillion baht ($42 billion) over the three years to finance stimulus spending and fiscal deficits to help the economy out of recession. Spending under the second plan should start this quarter.
The university projected the number of tourist arrivals would fall by 15-20 percent from last year’s 14.5 million and revenue would fall 10-15 percent from 520 billion baht last year.
Industry operators want the government to restore confidence to bring back holidaymakers and to help businesses with funding, Thanavath said, citing a survey of some 400 tourism-related firms conducted by the university from June 25-29.
The survey showed that operators expected the flu outbreak to have less impact than political strife, but they wanted both problems to be resolved quickly, he said.
The tourist industry, which employs 1.8 million people and brings in the equivalent of 6 percent of GDP, has still not recovered from a week-long siege of Suvarnabhumi airport late last year, which stranded thousands of tourists.
Violent anti-government protests in April, which prompted the government to impose emergency rule, dealt another blow.