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20 May 2005


Foreign Tourists Dropping 7 Percent in Q1/2005


The Tsunami that slammed into Thailand's tourist attractions along the Andaman Coast on December 26, 2004, dealt a severe blow to Thailand's tourist arrivals during the first quarter of this year. Overseas travelers visiting Thailand during the period totaled some 2.76 million persons, a year-on-year decrease of 7 percent.

After that tragic incident, most overseas travelers, particularly those from Europe, who had earlier planned to spend their Christmas holidays in the Andaman coastal provinces ? i.e., Phuket, Krabi and Phang-nga ? delayed their travel plans or shifted their itineraries to elsewhere. Only some of them still come to Thailand, visiting other tourist attractions like those along the Gulf of Thailand, i.e., Koh Chang, Pattaya, Cha-um, Hua-Hin, Chumphon, Pranburi and Samui, instead. Against this backdrop, the number of foreign tourists in January 2005 plunged 27 percent from the same period of last year.

However, the situation has started to pick up over the remainder of the first quarter (Q1) of 2005 thanks to great efforts from tourism-related public and private agencies. In brief, those efforts include:
  • Revival of tsunami-hit tourist attractions and tourist-related services
  • Launched campaigns to spur short-haul tourist markets within Asia
  • Expedited widespread public relations to disseminate news about tourist attractions along the Andaman coast, particularly in Phuket and Krabi. Tour operators and Media representatives worldwide have also been invited to visit those places to experience their unspoiled natural beauty.
  • Conducted public relations abroad for other tourist spots in Thailand.

In Q2, repeated earthquakes and three bombings occurred simultaneously in Hat Yai and in the city of Songkhla before Songkran, further inhibiting foreign tourist arrivals to slow slightly in April 2005. But, it is expected that the market will be able to adjust and expand steadily in May and June 2005, due to following supportive factors:
  • The higher travel expense due to steadily rising oil prices, particularly for long-haul travel, will induce more tourists in Asia to turn to short-haul travel in Asia.
  • Over Labor Day, many Asian tourists traveled overseas, particularly the Chinese, who had seven consecutive days on holiday.
  • More foreign tourists, who had previously hesitated from traveling to Thailand in April, have gradually resumed travel to Thailand.
  • The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) has been expediting proactive marketing campaigns in four major regions, which include eastern Asia, Europe, America and Oceania. During the off-tourist season, markets in Asia ? particularly China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan ? are to be focused upon.

The above factors will help the foreign tourist arrivals to expand in Q2, and it is expected that 2.63 million foreign tourists will come to Thailand, increasing by 4 percent over 2004.

From the above trend, in the first half of 2005, it is expected that 5.39 million foreign tourists will come to Thailand, dropping from 2004 by 2 percent.