The number of foreign tourists to Thailand should reach 16 million next year as the global economic crisis and local political problems have eased, Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa said yesterday. As well, he said, the Thai economy was showing positive signs of improvement and the Thai Khem Kaeng stimulus spending programme would be a key factor that would spur tourism.
“I think the country has already passed the worst including the airport closures in late 2008, the cancellation of the Asean Summit in Pattaya and political violence in April. It is expected that the tourism industry will clearly improve next year on condition there are no new incidents,” he said.
The minister made the comments as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) introduced Suraphon Svetasreni as its new governor, filling a post that had been vacant for eight months.
Mr Suraphon said the TAT had set its own arrivals target at between 15 million and 15.5 million with total revenues of 560 to 570 billion baht. Arrivals this year are estimated at about 13.5 million, down by 7.4% from last year.