Arrival projections for Thai tourism downgraded for 2019

Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has downgraded the forecast for foreign arrivals this year to a range of 39-39.8 million. This is down from the upbeat projections at the start of the year that 40.2 million tourists would arrive in the Land of Smiles.

Thai tourism for the first half of 2019 grew only 1.4%, less than expected, prompting the new Minister to admit that the target of over 40 million would not be met.

Although some netizens have characterised the slight reduction in tourist arrivals, especially in some of the traditional ‘hot spots’, and specifically in the months of April and May, to a ‘collapse’ or major reversal of fortune for Thai tourism, the numbers still show an upward trajectory for the year.

The Thailand Tourism Intelligence Centre says 23.1 million foreign tourists visited the Kingdom between January and the end of August this year, up nearly 2% compared to the same period last year. The big mover is Indian tourists, up 24% year on year.

The minister, whose proposal to provide incentive to Chinese and Indian tourists with visa-free entry, says he will continue to chat about about the “security issues” raised with related state agencies.

His proposal, rebuffed last week by foreign minister Don Pramudwinai and deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, was rejected at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. But the Cabinet did extend the current 2,000 baht visa-on-arrival fee waiver to the end of April next year.

Apart from India and China, the following countries are also on the list of visa-on-arrival fee waivers – Bulgaria, Bhutan, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu.

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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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