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Thailand's tourism sector hopes House dissolution will boost arrivals
Publication Date : 10-12-2013
The decision of Thailand's prime minister to dissolve Parliament and calm the current political chaos has come as a relief to tourism operators, according to Yutthachai Soonthronrattanavate, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, though he himself is not sure it will solve anything.
The tourism industry has felt the pinch of the protests since last month. The number of foreign arrivals between the end of November and mid-December was 400,000 short of the normal figure for this time of year. Normally, the monthly arrival figures are about 2.5 million during this period. Meanwhile the number of domestic travellers dropped by about a million, or 30 per cent of the usual total. Tourism revenue is projected to lose more than 4 billion baht (US$124 million) in the period.
According to statistics released yesterday by theTourism and Sports Ministry, the number of foreign tourist arrivals at Bangkok's two international airports from December 1-8 fell by 14.88 per cent to 44,524, from 52,308 in the same period last year.
However, Yutthachai believes the anti-government protesters will not be satisfied with the call for new elections and will continue to rally.
He said tourism operators had stopped launching marketing promotions to attract tourists, fearing they would get nothing in return. Normally, they would spend 500,000 baht to 1 million baht on such promotions during the high season, depending on business size. Once a new government is formed, he urged that it look after the tourism industry by offering significant incentives to help them to survive.
Sugree Sithivanich, deputy governor for marketing communications of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the agency had been monitoring the situation closely. The dissolution of the House should not raise any concerns among foreign tourists.
So far, 27 TAT overseas offices have received calls from tourists about the situation in Thailand. They have not cancelled their trips, but mainly asked about road traffic and transport, as well as protective measures at the airports.
As for events scheduled for the festive season, they will go ahead as planned. However, Sugree expressed concern that the political tension would lead to violence. This could be bad for the tourism industry.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said if the situation gets worse, it will have an impact on Asian tourists. There are also indications that Canadian tourists are concerned.