Thailand's tourism situation in 2009 is poised to face the lowest growth since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, reminiscent of the post-9/11 terrorist attack period, as well as the SARS epidemic and Tsunami Disaster. Apart from the global recession and the outbreak of H1N1 influenza, which the WHO has set at the Phase 5 pandemic level, Thai tourism has also been crippled by domestic political instability. KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) holds the view that the riots during Songkran and the spread of the H1N1 influenza will affect Thailand's international tourism business in 2009, causing it to deteriorate even more from 2008 than thought before.
The number of international tourist arrivals to Thailand in 2009 may total around 11-12 million persons, falling 20 percent from 2008, wherein tourism revenue should fall to only THB380-400 billion, dropping 25 percent YoY. The H1N1 influenza outbreak is still an important variable that must be monitored closely.
In light of this grim outlook, tourism related businesses should adjust themselves urgently. Apart from slashing room rates and operating costs to maintain solvency, operators should introduce new tourism packages and adjust strategies to attract tourists, especially domestic tourists and expatriates. They should also focus on niche markets such as agro-tourism, weddings as well as honeymoon, health and adventure tourism, etc. Apart from adding value to travel activities, tourism venues, accommodations, restaurants and shopping venues, these approaches also offer goods and services that match the varied desires of tourist groups more appropriately. These are new alternatives that can attract consumer attention at a time when both Thai and foreign tourists have begun to place more significance on value.