Thai bank forecasts bumper tourism year

Posted on November 9, 2015

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Kasikorn Research Centre estimates tourist arrivals to Thailand will reach 30.19 million by the end of the year, a 21.7% increase over 2014.

Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports said it projects 28.8 million international tourists this year, but also claimed the emphasis s on quality tourism, counting revenue rather than heads. The bank says the figure could close the year higher at around 30 million.

The bank’s research centre said if the country’s international tourism could be maintained at the current rate, tourist arrivals could reach 7.68 to 8.00 million, up 2.6% to 6.9% year-on-year during October to December, versus last year quarter when growth was 7.3%.

inside no 1However the 7.3% growth in the last quarter of the year was compared with months in 2013 when the country suffered considerable political upheaval.

Foreign arrivals for 2015, could be as high as 30.19 million, skyrocketing 21.7% year-on-year. A note of caution should be taken on board, as the figure includes cross border travel from Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. This is made up of a generous proportion of traders and visits to relatives that has no reference point to genuine tourism.

But tourism from China continues to grow during Q4 although the bank states it may not be as good as during the same period last year when the government attracted more Chinese tourists by exempting visa fees. It yielded an abnormally high base for comparison that could reduce the percentage growth, this year.

The bank estimates Chinese travellers could make 1.8 million visits in Q4 increasing 22.6% over the same period last year. Q4 in 2014 enjoyed a remarkable growth of 69.8% over 2013 due to the visa fee waving policy, August to November.

South Thailand should continue to prosper as there are many foreign airlines that have increased flights mainly to Phuket.

Meanwhile, tourism in Pattaya will likely gain from the increase in flights to U-Tapao International Airport, and Chiang Mai should welcome more Chinese, mostly in the lower-income range and travelling on strictly controlled packages.

Thai AirAsia is now using U-Tapao as its fifth hub to expand its business. The airline operates flights to Nanning and Nanchang in China, while AirAsia serves Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The airline will launch more services connecting Chiang Mai, Singapore, Macau and Udon Thani, 27 November and to Hat Yai on 3 December.

Foreigners visiting Thailand during Q4 will likely spend substantially on merchandise and souvenirs, which are slated to be their second largest expenditure after accommodation. Taking this into account, retailers may see opportunities to stage promotional campaigns directed at foreign tourists, the centre cited.

Yearend mega-events, including sporting competitions and annual festivals, will help attract new European and American travellers to Phuket. However, mid-level tourists from China should still flock to Thai beach resorts, thus turning away Euopeans who seek tranquility and privacy. They will likely head for adjacent provinces such as Krabi and Phang Nga. This factor may be a challenge for Phuket as it loses traction in the high-end market.

Last year, the kingdom attracted 24.80 million visits, down 6.54% from 26.54 visits in 2013, according to Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ data. The May 2014 military coup was blamed for the poor performance.

Kasikorn Research Centre is a subsidiary company of Kasikorn Bank, which conducts tourism and business research mainly on Thailand’s economy including tourism with reliable recommendations and indicators on business prospects.

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