Thailand: Tourism boss snips 2019 foreign arrivals

  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry has cut its foreign arrivals forecast to 39-39.8 million in 2019, down from 40.2 million.
  • Affected by global tension, Thai tourism in 1H19 saw foreign arrivals grow only 1.4% to 19.7 million, prompting the ministry to shave its target in Jul 19 from 41.3 million to 40.2 million.
  • Tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said he is confident the new projection is achievable as the government has been working to offer incentives to foreign visitors.
  • The minister said though the proposal to provide visa exemptions for visitors from China and India was not considered by the cabinet ministers on 20 Aug 19, he would continue to discuss concerns about security with related state agencies, hoping to reach a conclusion within 1-2 weeks.
  • Mr Phiphat said the cabinet is continuing to promote tourism from the remainder of 2019 through 2020 by extending the THB2,000-waiver of visa-on-arrival fees to 19 nations, which already covers China and India, until 30 Apr 20, from 31 Oct 19.
  • Meanwhile, the latest statistics of the Thailand Tourism Intelligence Centre report 23.1 million foreign tourists visited Thailand in Jan-Jul 19, up by 1.94% y/y.
  • China still accounts for the biggest portion with 6.63 million visitors, a contraction of 3.3%, followed by Malaysia with 2.24 million, up 6.2%, and India 1.14 million, up 24%.
  • Although the Chinese market remains weak, Mr Yuthasak said there were positive signs for 2H19 as TAT offices in China reported strong advanced bookings of airline seats to Thailand in Sep 19.
  • He is confident some 11 million Chinese travellers will visit Thailand in 2019, up from 10.5 million visitors in 2018.

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