Bangkok - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) forecasts revenue of 3.1 trillion baht in tourism revenue in 2018 by attracting tourists from second-tier Chinese and European cities and focusing on tourist quality, says governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
The industry has remained sluggish during the last two quarters, but the plans are expected to lay the groundwork for continued growth in 2017 and 2018, Mr Yuthasak said.
"Moving forward, the TAT will draw focus on increasing the number of quality tourists," he said. "We project the tourism industry will bring in 3.1 trillion baht in revenue in 2018 — up from 2.7 trillion baht this year."
Mr Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor
While the TAT's forecasts are strong, a number of economic and political factors can lower the estimates, Mr Yuthasak told the Bangkok Post.
Starting this year, Thailand will see a decrease in average tourism growth rates.
Regional competitors are part of the issue. Vietnam and Laos, for example, are stiffening their competition with Thailand by offering discounted travel packages.
Hat Yai's economy has been strongly hit by the decrease in Malaysian and Singaporean tourists.
"During the first six months of this year, tourism grew by only 4.3%, due to global and domestic economic slowdown in markets," Mr Yuthasak said.
While growth has slowed down, international arrivals to Thailand are still growing. Close to 35 million people are expected to make their way to Thailand — up from 34 million in 2016 and 32.6 million in 2015, Mr Yuthasak said.
Local tourists are expected to make 154 million trips in 2017, up from 145 million trips in 2016.
The number is projected to increase further to 162 million trips next year.
The TAT is focusing on attracting first-time visitors from second-tier cities in Europe and China.
China will remain the biggest source of arrivals this year, with 9 million visitors in 2017 or 27% of the total.
Mr Yuthasak said the government allocated a budget of 7.08 billion baht to TAT this year, an increase of 2.4% from last year's budget.
The TAT is fine-tuning its marketing plan to bolster tourism during its meeting in Ratchaburi province.