BANGKOK (eTN) – Political turbulences during the first part of the year 2010 raised fears among professionals that Thailand could have further lost visitors last year, a feeling further exacerbated by the strengthening of the Thai baht, which appreciated last year by 12% against the dollar, by 18% against the British pound, and by 25% against the euro. The good surprise is that visitors were not deterred from coming back once the situation stabilized.
Thailand confirms once more its “amazing” capacity to recover extremely rapidly from a crisis. In 2003 and 2005, it took less than six months for the kingdom to recover from the Avian Influenza (“bird flu”) and then from the terrible tsunami. Recovery this time was even shorter as traffic at Bangkok airport started to recover from July 2010, two months after the end of the violence in the Thai capital. “The traditional friendliness and hospitality of the Thai people, our excellent products and value for money, plus all the great marketing campaigns launched by the industry as a whole all came together to pull off what must be one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the history of Thai tourism,” explained Suraphon Svetasreni,Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
First figures from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport shows that total visitor arrivals in December reached 1.196 million, up by 5.8% over the same month of 2009 and even 19.2% up compared to the same month of 2008 – due to the airport’s closure for 10 days. TAT Governor added: “The excellent result in the final month of 2010 has allowed the Thai tourism industry to recover from the political unrest and achieve beyond its initial set targets. Thanks to the hard work of all the government agencies, Thai Airways and all the airlines serving Thailand, the private sector, and all our supporters and partners abroad, we have been able to make a remarkable recovery and end our 50th anniversary year on a positive note.”
Although TAT is still waiting for further counting at other international points of entry such as Phuket International Airport or borders to Malaysia, TAT revised up its estimates for 2010. The kingdom should now have received a total of 15.7 or 15.8 million foreign travelers. After all the numbers are tallied from other international points of entry, especially the southern border with Malaysia and the Phuket International Airport, TAT is projecting to end 2010 with roughly 15.7-15.8 million international visitor arrivals, up by 11.5% from total arrivals in 2009 (14.14 million).