International tourist arrivals to Thailand posted a decline of 4.91%, January to April, this year according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ data.
Released Monday, the ministry’s data recorded 8,620,644 visits to the country during the first four months down from 9,065,759 over the same period last year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is to slash its tourist arrival projection this year from 28.4 million to 26.3 million and tourism revenue from 1.42 trillion baht to 1.24 trillion baht, citing unresolved political turmoil as major cause.
The projection adjustment was based on the worst case scenario in which no political settlement is reached and unrest is dragged on further.
TAT deputy governor Sukree Sithivanich said the adjustment reflects the worst performance of the sector in five years since the Suvarnabhumi airport seizure in 2008 and the bloody riot and arson at Central World in 2010.
However he maintained that the political unrest did have no impact on the European and the American tourists which still recorded 7.63% and 0.48% respectively, while South African market registered 16.60% growth.
Thailand’s tourism sector continues to be severely hit by political turmoil, which is likely to increase unless there is a dramatic softening of opposing political positions. Tourism leaders are urging both sides to seek a middle path of compromise to resolve a conflict that has crippled the economy over the last six months.
Tourist arrivals from Asia have dropped substantially
A trend that if not reversed will force travel companies to cut back or even close operations. Hotels will be hit badly and may have to lay-off staff if the declines continue in the third quarter.
The main identified source markets in the region posted a decline were: Taiwan (-28.09%); China (-21.79%); Cambodia (-14.69%); Brunei (-13.31%); Japan (-10.30%); Philippines (-9.00%); Vietnam (-8.04%); Malaysia (-6.66%); Singapore (-2.62%); South Korea (-2.57%); and Indonesia (-2.10%).
In April, foreign travellers recorded 2,022,404 visits decreasing 1.72% from 2,057,855 visits during the same month last year.
For the month of April most markets recorded an improvement except for the market share leaders, Southeast Asia and North Asia.
As long as these two markets represent more than 50% of the total arrivals, that decline is the one to watch.
The main market, South Africa, recorded a 42.48% increase from 5,932 to 8,452.
The Middle East showed an improvement of 17.59% from 41,245 to 48,499 visits. Israel arrivals led the field with 13,926 growing 122.46% from a small base of 6,260. Other main markets were: the United Arab Emirates (9,150; -14.71%); Kuwait (3,677; -19.89%); Egypt (2,309; +48.87%); and Saudi Arabia (1,023; -11.51%).
Oceania recorded an increase of 14.11% from 82,901 to 94,595 visits. The main markets Australia and New Zealand posted a positive gain of 14.57% (84,166) and 11.67% (10,250) respectively.
Europe presented a growth of 12.34% from 445,916 to 500,944 visits. Only two identified markets posted declines– Austria (-1.58%) and Russia (-14.14%).
The top five growth markets were: Norway (+75.16%); Sweden (+51.78%); Spain (+47.06%); Denmark (+43.34%); and Finland (+38.50%).
The Americas gained 1.90% from 93,075 to 94,847 visits. The United States posted the highest arrivals at 63,814 decreasing 2.16% from 65,222 following by Canada (18,727; +2.50%), Brazil (4,444; +39.40%), and Argentina (2,180; +8.03%).
South Asia recorded a decline of 3.59% from 100,440 to 96,837 visits. India led the field supplying 72,083, a decrease of 5.70% from 76,444 followed by Sri Lanka (7,973; -4.46%), Pakistan (6,374; +11.36%), Bangladesh (5,997; +6.18%), and Nepal (1,710; -10.33%).
East Asia (ASEAN included) reported a decrease of 8.73% from 1,281,989 to 1,170,038 visits in April.
The markets that showed improvements were: Laos (+43.12%); Myanmar (+11.87%); and Hong Kong (+5.02%).
In addition, the tourism ministry reported international tourists to Thailand at the country’s gateway Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in April down 12.61% from 1,354,673 to 1,183,791 visits.