TAT bullish on Phuket tourism for 2010

PHUKET CITY: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects 14 million foreign tourists to visit Thailand next year. It also expects an additional 90 million trips by domestic holidaymakers – to Phuket, Chiangmai, Pattaya, Koh Samui and other key tourist destinations – and total revenue of 960 billion baht.

If achieved, the number of inbound tourists will represent a 5.6% increase over 2009’s expected 13.2 million visitors. International tourists are expected to generate revenue of 540 billion baht next year, up 6.4% from this year’s targeted revenue of 530 billion from inbound visitors.

Following Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s visit last week, officials in China yesterday withdrew that country’s official warning against travel to Thailand.

The move is expected to draw more than 100,000 Chinese tourists to Thailand, including Phuket, in the remaining months of this year.

Acting TAT governor Pensuda Priaram said the agency would concentrate on attracting tourists from South Asia and the Middle East, regions that have suffered less than others from the global economic crisis.

“In 2010, the TAT hopes to attract 823,000 tourists from South Asia, up 13%, generating revenue of 25 billion baht, up 15.4%. Also, 450,000 tourists from the Middle East are expected to visit Thailand, spending about 19 billion baht,” Ms Pensuda said.

The TAT hopes arrivals from all over Asia will grow 3.8% next year to 6.9 million visitors, bringing in revenue of 162 billion baht.

Some 4.7 million tourists from Europe are expected next year, generating revenue of 237 billion baht. The numbers of visitors from the Americas and Oceania are also expected to grow, by 4.9% and 4.2% respectively, providing revenue of 46 billion baht and 37 billion baht, respectively.

However, visitors from East Asia, particularly Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong, are expected to drop 14.9% to 6.7 million. Revenue from these sources will fall 21.7% to 156 billion baht. Tourists from Africa are also expected to plunge, 17%, to only 90,000.

Weerasak Kowsurat, chairman of the TAT board, said the agency is also planning to approach niche markets like diving, youths, weddings, golf, shopping and senior tourists.

The government has extended the exemption on fees for tourist visas until March 31 next year. The exemption will apply to visa applications made on arrival at all international airports and at Thai embassies.

Wansadet Thavornsuk, deputy governor for domestic markets, said the TAT planned to spend 500 million baht to boost domestic tourism next year. One measure will be encouraging public and private organizations to hold meetings and conferences within Thailand.

Thai Hotels Association president Prakit Shinamourphong said an end to political unrest in Thailand would be a key factor in driving tourism over the coming year.

— Suchat Sritama

Phuket News

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