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Chinese visitors cross one million in first quarter 2013

China’s total of 1.12 million visitor arrivals in Thailand made it the first time that any country had crossed the one million mark in the short span of three months. In addition, major markets such as Russia, Korea and India are showing strong double digit growth and Japan has bounced back strongly.

BANGKOK – Led by a dramatic 93% growth in arrivals from China, Thailand’s visitor arrivals surged to a record total of 6,828,718 in January – March 2013, up by 18.94% over the same period of 2012, according to figures published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

China’s total of 1.12 million visitor arrivals made it the first time that any country had crossed the one million mark in the short span of three months. The growth was mainly due to the Chinese New Year in February 2013, which led to a spike in long-holiday travel to Thailand. In addition, major markets such as Russia, Korea and India are showing strong double digit growth and Japan has bounced back strongly.

TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni welcomed the good results. “We are gratified to see that our marketing efforts are producing results. In these days of economic challenges and geopolitical instability, it is very important that at least one sector of the economy is continuing to prove to be a major source of income and jobs.” Mr. Suraphon said he was also pleased to see that the strengthening of the Thai Baht has not impacted visitor arrivals to Thailand.

Here is a summary of the key results:

Overview: All regions grew well except the Middle East. Visitors from East Asia totalled 3,623,713 (+28.50%), Europe 2,131,719 (+10.28%), the Americas 331,070 (+8.71%), South Asia 313,634 (+16.03%), Oceania 250,124 (+6.07%), Middle East 139,499 (-1.20%), and Africa 38,959 (+6.70%).

East Asia: East Asian visitor arrivals comprise the biggest market share of all visitors. A total of 3.62 million or 53.07% were from East Asian countries. Apart from China, the other top sources of arrivals were Malaysia (627,759), Japan (408,048), and Korea (350,529).

The ASEAN countries in total are generating over 1.48 million arrivals, with spectacular growth by Brunei (+73.11%), Indonesia (+35.13%), Myanmar (+23.27%), Singapore (+22.90%), Vietnam (+5.02%), Philippines (+4.42%), Malaysia (+1.94%) except Cambodia declined by 11.69% and Lao PDR. (-16.64%).

Europe: European visitors showed a good growth rate of 10.28% to 2.13 million. Russia retained its status as the largest source market from Europe with arrivals of 584,516, up 26%. Germany is the second highest source market with a total of 252,108, up 12.22%, followed by the United Kingdom 246,943, up 2.83%.

Strong growth from East Europe (+27%) and Sweden (+3.72%) was due to the positive economic conditions there and the special charter flights which are operated to Thailand during the winter months. Sweden is recovering from a year ago while Belgium (+12.10%), Ireland (+5.94%), Switzerland (+5.92%), Spain (+1.15%), and France (+0.40%) continued to see growth.

Declining source-markets from Europe included Italy, Denmark, Finland and Norway partly due to weather-related problems in Northern Europe. Italy was particularly affected by the Eurozone debt crisis and the presidential election in February 2013.

The Americas: Arrivals from the Americas showed a growth of 8.71% to 331,070. The main market, USA, increased by 8.25% to 227,319, which was an indication of the country emerging from its economic downturn. Arrivals from Canada were up 4.57%. Showing considerable promise are Latin American markets; such as, Brazil (+21.11%) and Argentina (+18.28%) due to their strong economies.

South Asia: Arrivals from South Asia grew by a strong 16.03% to 313,634. India topped the list with arrivals up by 18.21% to 249,350, due to its strong economy and increased flights. Other countries; such as, Pakistan (+7.14%) and Nepal (+2.21%), too, saw unrest and political protests but they did not affect tourist travel to Thailand.

Oceania: Arrivals from Oceania grew by 6.07% to 250,124 visitors. Australian visitors were up 5.55% to 224,530 driven by the robust Australian economy and the strength of the Australian dollar. Arrivals from New Zealand were up 11.29% to 25,016.

Middle East: Arrivals declined by 1.20% to 139,499. This was mainly because of a decline of 5.92% in arrivals from the UAE, to 20,209. UAE residents took advantage of the weak Euro and the subsequent fall in prices of travel packages to European destinations to travel there instead. Moreover, the economic sanctions on Iran have also dragged down the growth rate of this region.

However, some source-markets, including Egypt (+28.02%), Israel (+11.70%), and Kuwait (+11.21%) reported good results.

Africa: Arrivals from Africa grew by 6.70% to 38,959, mainly due to the driving force of the South African market.

In 2013, TAT is confident that if the global, regional and local situation remains stable, Thailand will receive 24.14 million arrivals, generating a projected tourism income of 1.1 trillion Baht.

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