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Myth: Strong baht deterring western tourists to Thailand

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The rise and rise of the Thai Baht, and it’s pushing through the 31.05 to the US Dollar barrier on Wednesday, tops off a turbulent decade of movement against some of the western currencies. The decade’s currency rise has also been matched by a meteoric explosion in tourism pushing Thailand into the top ten list of popular tourist locations in the world.

In 2009 Thailand attracted 14,149,841 tourists. In 2018 it pushed through 38 million and the projection is that it will surpass 40 million by the end of 2019.

The common narrative in social media (including comments on The Thaiger’s Facebook page) has been that the rise of the Thai Baht against western currencies is ‘killing off’ tourism from traditional western markets.

The statistics don’t tend to bear out this sentiment.

There’s no doubt the ‘big mover’ in tourist arrivals in the past decade has been the Chinese, rising from 778,000 in 2009 to 10,536,000 last year – a staggering surge and a profound change to the tourist mix in the Land of Smiles. At the same time the largest demographic of tourists into Thailand, the ASEAN countries, has risen from 3,969,000 to 10,284,000 last year, a large rise in regional tourism which has also had a big impact on Thailand’s tourist numbers.

But the rises have also come from most of the western countries during the same decade, whilst their currencies have preformed poorly against the Thai baht. Generally, as the Baht has risen against their currencies, more of their tourists have been visiting Thailand, albeit not with the same vigour of the Chinese tourist numbers.

So the western tourists are not ‘fleeing in droves’ but continue to be important sectors of the Thai tourist mix.

Another notable rise and fall in the past decade has come from the Russian market. In 2009 there were 337,000 Russians arriving in Thailand. In 2018 there was 1,473,000, but the peak was in 2013 when the figure reached 1,747,000 arrivals.

United Kingdom and the Pound

In the ten years since 2009 the annual arrivals in Thailand has risen from 841,000 to 987,000 (figure rounded to the nearest 1000) tourists in the Land of Smiles last year. The peak year for UK travellers was 2016 when the numbers topped the 1 million mark (1,003,000). The British have been consistent travellers to Thailand, even if the figure isn’t rising much compared to some of the other nationalities. During the same period the Pound’s drop has been noticeable and still going through a few Brexit bumps.

Myth: Strong baht deterring western tourists to Thailand | News by The Thaiger

United States and US$

In the past decade Thailand has become a firm favourite for the travel plans of US citizens, from 627,000 in 2009 to 1,123,248 visitors last year. Their currency has had much more of a roller coaster ride during the decade but the band of change more narrow than some of the other world currencies, between 31-36.5 Baht to the US Dollar. Back in 2013 the US Dollar was even lower against the Thai Baht than it is now.

Myth: Strong baht deterring western tourists to Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Australians and the Oz Dollar

Australians coming to Thailand have definitely felt the pinch with a gradual plunge of their spending power dropping from 33 baht to the AUD in 2012 to be around 21 baht to the AUD now. But tourism by Aussies has been quite consistent, from 647,000 in 2009 to 802,000 in 2018. Arrival numbers peaked in 2012 when it reached 930,000 visitors to Thailand.

Myth: Strong baht deterring western tourists to Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Europeans and the Euro

The Euro has also seen a steady decade-long slide from a peak around 50 Euro to the Thai Baht down to around 35 Euro now. The two largest European feeder markets have been French and German tourists.

• French tourists have been steady arrivals in Thailand. In 2009 there were 427,000 and has risen to 750,000 in 2018.

• German arrivals have steadily grown from 573,000 a decade ago to 890,000 German tourists visiting Thailand in 2018.

• Swedish tourists have been steady throughout the decade banding between 351,000 arrivals in 2009 and 312,000 last year.

Myth: Strong baht deterring western tourists to Thailand | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Wikipedia | xe.com | Ministry of Tourism

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Clive Goodwin

    January 23, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    This story needs revisiting. A hotel rep told me tourism in Phuket was down 31% this year (Xmas 2019) and more worryingly for him was the reduction in westerners, uk, Australia, USA, Europeans, the people who spend money, rather than the Asians that now make up 84% of tourism.

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Protests

Police threaten jail time for anyone taking selfies at protests

Maya Taylor

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Police threaten jail time for anyone taking selfies at protests | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The State of Emergency recently imposed on Bangkok amid escalating political unrest carries some sweeping powers, some of them rather creative. According to a report in Coconuts, police are warning that anyone taking a selfie at anti-government protests is risking 2 years in jail and a fine of up to 40,000 baht. You’d have to really want that photo…

The emergency decree is being invoked in everything, from the arrests of protesters and their leaders, to the threat of restrictions being slapped on media outlets whose reporting is deemed unfavourable.

“We are under the severe state of emergency, which is a special law. We must hold this law seriously. Everything we do is under international standards.”

Meanwhile, the latest clampdown has led to the arrest (and subsequent temporary release) of one doctor and the firing of another. After riot police in Bangkok used water cannons laced with chemicals to disperse a protest on Friday, around 400 Thai doctors called on officials to refrain from using such irritants against activists.

Jarosdao Rimpanichkit, a doctor at Bangkok’s Mongkutwattana General Hospital, was promptly fired for having put his name to the letter. In a statement, the director of the military hospital, General Rientong Nanna, says the facility could not support employees who are, “allied with the king’s enemies.”

Meanwhile, another doctor, Tossaporn Serirak, has been released on bail after being arrested for violating the emergency decree. Tossaporn has become something of a hero figure to pro-democracy activists, after he began offering medical assistance at rallies and criticising officials for the tactics used against peaceful protesters.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Tourism

First tourists in 7 months arrive in BKK today

Maya Taylor

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First tourists in 7 months arrive in BKK today | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

5pm today – that’s the time the first groups of “tourists” will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, announced the arrival of the first group of tourists to arrive in the Kingdom since borders where locked in March. He said they wouldn’t needn’t worry about the political unrest currently rocking the capital, pointing out that the protests are peaceful.

The tourists departing from Shanghai, China and arriving in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) will only be in Thailand for 30 days, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says.

They’ll spend half that time locked up in quarantine for 14 days. Today’s flight today is reported to include 41 people who have applied for their visa through the new STV, Special Tourist Visa.

Phiphat says that in total, 400 international tourists, primarily Chinese, will arrive in Thailand by early November. All will be tested and whisked off for 14 day quarantine on arrival, in addition to having to endure copious amounts of paperwork before they even get here.

A plan to admit Chinese tourists earlier this month hit a small snag when it emerged not a single one had applied for the government’s newly-launched Special Tourist Visa.

The tourism minister says the first group to arrive are doing so as part of a “conditional entry” program and are arriving from a region in China that “has been free of the Covid-19 virus for several months now”. It’s understood the visitors have been specially chosen and approved for entry by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Additional tourists are expected to arrive on October 26, when another group lands in Phuket. The later arrival in Phuket was to coincide with the end of this years Vegetarian Festival celebrations.

Phiphat says the October 26 arrivals are also coming from “very low risk” areas.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Protests

Police deny plans to restrict online access, as media groups issue warning

Maya Taylor

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Police deny plans to restrict online access, as media groups issue warning | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AP / Nikkei Asia

Thai police have confirmed the legitimacy of a document released by the Free Youth group, which reveals that their Facebook page was targeted by authorities for allegedly spreading disinformation and inciting civil unrest, in breach of the State of Emergency, enacted last Thursday morning.

The Free Youth group have now moved to “Telegram”, a popular messaging and telephony app, after their Facebook page became the subject of scrutiny. However, rumours abound that the government is planning to block access to Telegram, as more activists adopt it as a communication tool. Telegram messages are encrypted and impossible to track.

Meanwhile, several media groups have warned the government not to further infringe on press freedoms, after a leaked order from the government’s Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation revealed that some news outlets may be in the firing line. The CRES order accuses 5 media outlets of allegedly breaching the State of Emergency and is threatening to remove offending content.

“As it appears there are television broadcasts of contents deemed to threaten national security or good morals by presenting certain contents from Voice TV, Prachatai.com, The Reporters, The Standard, and Free Youth movement, the national police chief, who is in charge of resolving the serious emergency situation thus orders the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to examine and suspend the broadcast or delete those contents from the computer system in line with their authority and responsibility.”

Local media groups have come out in opposition to the threats, calling on the government to respect the freedom of the press and warning that an attempt to restrict access to information will only serve to worsen anti-government sentiment. In their statement, they also call on all media groups to ensure reporting is fair and accurate and does not incite violence or twist the facts.

Academics from the faculty of journalism and mass communications at Thammasat University, have also issued a statement in which they say citizens have a right to access information and the government should refrain from interfering with the media.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand has also strayed into the exchange, expressing concern over the latest development, which it says, “makes the government appear heavy-handed and unresponsive to criticism, and could stir up even more public anger. Bona fide journalists should be allowed to report important developments without the threat of bans, suspensions, censorship or prosecution hanging over them.”

Assistant national police chief Jaruwat Wisaya says police did refer a number of social media accounts and media outlets to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry. Jaruwat says officers needed to know if some protesters’ social media accounts, as well as a number of media outlets, were violating the emergency decree.

Jaruwat adds that normal procedures still apply, and police would need to apply for a court order before any suspension of offending media channels could take place. He says a committee formed under the emergency decree will monitor news and information and inform police if action needs to be taken. Meanwhile, the Digital Economy and Society Minister, Buddhipongse Punnakanta, points out that none of the offending media outlets mentioned have been banned.

“Initially the NBTC or agencies concerned will ask them over for talks and urge them to be careful. But the messages (deemed inappropriate and still on the website) should be deleted.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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