BANGKOK (AFP): Many resorts have no rooms left, but Thailand’s key tourism industry has taken a battering over the New Year holidays because of the September 11 terror attacks, according to a study released today. Thai Farmers Research Center (TFRC) said fears of terrorism and the gloomy world economy would drive New Year revenue from foreign tourists down to 3.0 billion baht (70 million dollars) from 4.0 billion baht last year. TFRC, part of Thai Farmers Bank, said the country had been less affected by terrorism fears than other Asian countries. “Nonetheless, the number of foreign tourist arrivals has plunged….” The evidence is hard to see in many popular parts of Thailand, however. The upscale Oriental Hotel in Bangkok reports a 92 percent occupancy rate for Christmas and New Year. And all hotels are full in the northern resort of Chiang Mai where Buddhist temples and even a private hospital have started renting beds. TFRC said the number of arrivals from Europe has risen in the final months of the year and that Thailand was also getting some travellers avoiding the United States after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The report said this was “partly offsetting the decreased numbers of tourists from certain countries like Japan, Taiwan and the United States.” The government-run Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) last week gave its own gloomy assessment of expected tourist arrivals because of September 11. The TAT said annual numbers arriving were expected to total 9.87 million in 2001, down from 10.3 million predicted before September 11 and the US-led strikes against Afghanistan. The new figure would mark annual growth of four percent, half of what had been forecasted. Tourist arrivals grew at a steady pace of 8.2 percent from January through August compared with the same period in 2000. But numbers slumped 9.1 percent in October, according to official data.
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