Malaysia set to replace India as tourist king of Thailand

PHUKET, THAILAND- JAN 23, 2016: Crowds of tourists at Patong beach on Jan 23, 2016 in Phuket, Thailand. Phuket is a popular destination famous for its beaches.

As Thailand Pass prepares to meet its end come July 1, it looks as if Malaysia is in line to replace the kingdom’s current tourist king, India. Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said yesterday that once Thailand Pass is no more, a larger number of Malaysian tourists than Indians is expected to make their way to the ‘Land of Smiles.’

Indians have so far made up Thailand’s biggest tourist group this year, with 100,884 arriving between January 1 and May 24. But earlier this month, Malaysians flooded into Phuket. Daily AirAsia flights from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket were fully booked. Other hotspots for Malaysian travellers were Bangkok, Krabi, Koh Samui, Phattalung, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Dannok, Had Yai, Betong, and Sungai Golok – the final three on or near the northern Malaysian border.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says 78,523 Malaysian visitors entered the kingdom in the first 5 months of the year.

But the Minister failed to take into account that the vast majority of the travellers from Malaysia, particularly through the southern immigration turnstiles, were just day traders and locals going about their daily life – not tourists.

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But Minister Phiphat noted that factors drawing foreign tourists to Thailand are the weakening of the Thai baht against the US dollar, the relatively low cost of living, and reasonable hotel room rates.

Earlier this month, TAT said that its goal for the number of Indian tourists in Thailand was 3,000 per day this year. The TAT is aiming to meet its goal through various promotional campaigns and special travel incentives. TAT claims that wedding tourism has grown popular among Indian visitors to Thailand, and it now has a goal of holding 400 events related to wedding tourism this year. Some 300 Indian wedding events have already been booked, mostly in Phuket, for the year.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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