Thai Tourism projects strong recovery in 2010

Bangkok — The Thai tourism industry has once again proved its resilience and is on track to end 2010 with a strong recovery in spite of the various internal and external crises that affected the industry at large.

According to the preliminary data from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, international visitor arrivals in January – November showed a good growth of 12.63% to 14,039,523. South Asia showed the highest growth of 22.78% followed by Middle East (21.73%), Africa (16.07%), East Asia (15.14%), and Europe (8.15%).

Key contributing factors to the growth of international visitor arrivals were as follows:

Underlying strengths of the Thai tourism industry which facilitated a quick recovery to normalcy at the end of the April-May political crisis.

The improved overall global economic conditions, in spite of the slower recovery in some regions.

The TAT’s marketing recovery campaigns that facilitated a quick short-term recovery. The tactical and strategic campaigns included numerous activities at global travel trade shows and regional road shows, hard-sell marketing events, partnership with airlines and tour operators, and government-approved policy measures; such as, the tourist visa fee waiver, reduced aircraft landing and parking charges, etc.

The details of visitor arrival trends in January – November 2010:

EAST ASIA: Arrivals grew by 15.14% to 7.17 million. Arrivals from Malaysia, China, and Korea were up strongly though arrivals from Japan have slightly declined. Overall growth from the region is expected to remain strong, especially to popular Thai beach resorts.

EUROPE: Arrivals grew by 8.15% to 3.8 million. Countries that reported higher than 5% growth were Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, and Eastern Europe. Markets that did not do so well are UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Finland, and Belgium due to poor economic conditions.

THE AMERICAS: Arrivals grew by a fractional 0.18% to 758,902 due to the economic conditions. The main market, the US, declined by -1.40% to 549,722. Arrivals from Canada were down -0.92%. However, arrivals from Brazil returned to strong positive growth (16.76%).

SOUTH ASIA: Arrivals surged by a strong 22.78% to 903,663 with all markets doing well, except Pakistan which has been affected by flooding and domestic political issues. India, however, has become a primary market with arrivals up by 26.31% to 690,374, making it the region’s fastest growing market. Thailand is receiving increasing attention in the Indian market, especially among tour groups and niche-market segments; such as, wedding and honeymoon, and film-making. This market is projected to show continued growth in 2011.

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OCEANIA: Arrivals grew by 9.42% to 719,708. Australia, the main market, was up 10.28% to 634,407 whereas New Zealand showed a smaller growth of 3.16% to 82,931.

MIDDLE EAST: Arrivals in January – November 2010 grew by a strong 21.73% to 534,844 with all markets showing a positive growth, especially Iran. Main markets like Israel and the UAE have continued to do well. However, arrivals from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have slowed significantly with respective declines of -6.33% and -23.62%. Thailand has maintained a strict neutrality and maintains good relations with the Arab and Islamic world, where it enjoys a good reputation as a value–for-money destination.

AFRICA: Arrivals grew by 16.07% to 112,059. South Africa, the major market, was up by a strong 33.41% to 46,751.

International visitor arrivals at Suvarnabhumi International Airport during 1- 6 December, 2010, totalled 205,292, up 6.81% over the same period of 2009. By the end of December 2010, Thailand is projected to receive 1.68 million international visitors.

That would allow Thailand to end 2010 with roughly 15.7-15.8 million international visitor arrivals, with tourism revenue projected at 580 – 600 billion Baht (US$ 19.29 billion – 19.95 billion).

For 2011, the TAT will be focusing on more emerging markets, particularly Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina. TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni said these economies are expected to show more promise next year on the back of an expected slowdown in the European and US markets.

Indonesia has 230 million people, the world’s 4th most populous country. Two million Indonesians visit Malaysia and Singapore each year, and the TAT believes Indonesian travellers are now ready to visit Thailand big time. During January – October 2010, arrivals from Indonesia numbered 226,742, up by 35.4% year-on-year. The average length of stay was six days with spending of 4,200 baht per person per day. The TAT projects Indonesian arrivals will grow by 35% both next year and in 2012. The TAT recently opened a tourism office in Jakarta.

At the same time, arrivals from Brazil totalled 16,010, up by 13.7%, while Argentinians numbered 8,161, up 35%. The TAT believes figures for both countries will rise dramatically next year.

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