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Thai tourism sets to hit 9.7 million arrival target in 2003

Thai Tourism Minister Sontaya Kunplome announced the imminent launch of a new wave of tourism stimulus projects…

Thai Tourism Minister Sontaya Kunplome announced the imminent launch of a new wave of tourism stimulus projects, expressing optimism that visitor arrivals this year would reach the target of 9.7 million, with revenue of over 600 billion bath (14.63 billion US dollars).

While acknowledging that tourism in the first half of the year was adversely affected by the Iraqi war and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, Sontaya was quoted by Thai News Agency Monday as saying that the blow had not been as hard as expected.

He cited figures for visitor arrivals at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok for the first half of the year, showing that arrivals were only 17 percent down on 2002 figures, a drop which he said was acceptable given the circumstances.

At the same time, he remained upbeat about visitor arrivals for the latter half of the year, pointing to the fact that since August visitor growth had returned to positive territory, and predicting that total arrivals for the year would reach 9.7-10 million.

This rise in international visitor arrivals would be bolstered by domestic tourism, with the Tourism and Sports Ministry introducing a range of domestic tourism stimulus packages to push domestic tourism growth up by 5 percent, he said.

The ministry is planning to focus on niche markets, whether adventure tourism or eco-tourism, with a large range of sporting activities arranged to act as extra options for tourists. For instance, we are now hosting the tennis Davis Cup, after which we will hold the Thailand Open. We also hold an international film festival. I am, thus, confident that tourism revenue will hit the target of ministry, he said.

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