Officials in Thailand are working to help the tourism industry in several provinces affected by deadly bombings earlier this month.
Ministry of Tourism and Sports reports international visits to Thailand exceeded 19.53 million, an improvement of 11.87% during January to July, this year.
Released last week, the ministry’s data showed the country attracted 19,538,190 international visits during the first seven months of this year, compared to 17,465,861 visits during the same period last year.
Bombings in several southern provinces killed or wounded more than 30 people, including foreigners.
Experts say more attacks could have a deeper effect on the industry, which is very important to the country’s economy.
Economists at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce say the attacks may cause up to 365,000 fewer people to visit the provinces. And they estimate the areas could lose $170 million in revenue.
Tourism and Sports Minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, commented:
“The country remains a very popular destination…we are not just focusing on the Chinese, but all markets such as Europe, the Middle East and ASEAN.”
In July alone, foreign travellers recorded 2,946,286 visits, an increase of 10.85% from 2,657,993 visits during the same month last year.
The World Travel and Tourism Council says tourists spend $72 billion a year in Thailand. The industry directly or indirectly employs about five million people. That is more than 14 percent of all jobs in the country.
The kingdom is even going ahead with a doubling of the Visa On Arrival fee to 2,000 baht ($58) which the Thai Cabinet had approved in January. Coming into effect on September 27, it applies to visitors from 19 countries, including China, by far Thailand’s largest source market with close to 8 million arrivals last year.
Officials expect about 33 million people to visit Thailand this year. They say about 30 percent of them will come from China.
By regions, all markets recorded increases in the seventh month of the year.
The Middle East recorded the highest growth of 35.52% from 80,678 to 109,337 visits. The United Arab Emirates posted the highest arrivals with 27,502 visits increasing 37.85% from 19,951 visits.
Other main markets in the Middle East: Israel (14,905; +9.21%); Kuwait (10,869; +12.07%); Saudi Arabia (4,588; +32.60%); and Egypt (3,546; +46.41%).
South Asia represented an increase of 15.55% from 120,786 to 139,570 visits. India led the field supplying 104,761 visits growing 16.36% from 90,034 followed by Bangladesh (12,142; +5.83%), Pakistan (9,677; +34.81%), Sri Lanka (5,499; -5.73%) and Nepal (3,567; +11.64%).
The Americas increased 13.25% from 95,821 to 108,519 visits. The United States recorded the highest arrivals at 80,957 up 15.23% from 70,255 followed by Canada (17,466; +9.22%), Brazil (3,156; +10.00%) and Argentina (1,290; +12.47%).
Africa showed an improvement of 12.11% from 13,026 to 14,604 visits. The main market South Africa decreased 5.81% from 6,183 to 5,824.Europe grew 10.08% from 409,042 visits to 450,259 visits.
The markets that showed improvements were: Russia (+21.02%); Germany (+18.49%); East Europe (+14.27%); Italy (+12.99%); Spain (+12.38%); Austria (+12.24%); France (+9.18%); Sweden (+8.90%); Belgium (+8.07%); the United Kingdom (+6.93%); Denmark (+4.01%); Finland (+2.20%); the Netherlands (+2.00%); and Switzerland (+1.58%).
Ireland and Norway were the only two markets that posted declines at 6.49% and 1.07% respectively.East Asia (ASEAN included) recorded a growth of 9.94% from 1,850,464 to 2,034,367 visits.
The markets that showed improvements were: Myanmar (+57.04%); Cambodia (+50.73%); Vietnam (+18.11%); Indonesia (+17.54%); the Philippines (+15.76%); China (+11.54%); Laos (+11.38%); South Korea (+10.54%); Brunei (+7.47%); Hong Kong (+6.28%); Japan (+5.41%); Singapore (+2.20%); and Malaysia (+0.26%).Taiwan was the only market that showed a decline of 10.99%.Oceania reported an increase of 1.65% from 88,176 to 89,630 visits. The main markets Australia and New Zealand improved 1.70% (76,648) and 0.95% (12,725) respectively.