The official appointment of Suraphon Svetasreni as the new governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was an opportunity for Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa to reiterate its confidence about tourism recovery in the kingdom.

“We passed the worst already, especially after the closure last year of Bangkok airport, the cancellation of Pattaya Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits and sporadic violence in Bangkok. I am sure that tourism is now on the way to full recovery with even a growth of tourist arrivals higher than expected,” said Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa.

Over the last two months, TAT has already experienced a strong rise in tourist arrivals, prompting the agency to revise upwards its forecast. Instead of a decline of tourist arrivals from 14.6 to 13.6 million tourist arrivals expected for 2009 (-7.4 percent), total arrivals could now come at 14.1 million, down by only 3.4 percent over 2008. Some more positive signs are seen with more airlines offering more direct flights to Thailand, especially Bangkok and Phuket.

For next year, Silpa-Archa predicts that the total arrival to reach 16 million but TAT remains more modest and forecast 15.5 million. Total domestic tourism is due to increase from 87 to 90 million arrivals.

TAT has said it will try to boost arrivals with various measures to attract more visitors such as reinforcing the use of social media and Internet, the promotion of 138 new tourist attractions, more budget for medical tourism as well as for cultural tourism.