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Thailand to end 2001 with 9.87 million visitors

Bangkok, Thailand: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Pradech Phayakvichien chaired a press conference on…

Bangkok, Thailand: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT<.>) Governor Pradech Phayakvichien chaired a press conference on December 26, 2001, to report on the TAT`s operations and activities during 2001 as well as the overall situation of the Thai travel and tourism industry.

Before September 11, TAT had targeted visitor arrivals of 10.30 million, which would have been an increase of 8.32% over 2000, and an estimated 320 billion baht in tourism foreign exchange revenue in 2001.

The Thai tourism industry grew steadily during January-August 2001 with a total of 6.76 million arrivals, an increase of 8.18% over the same period of 2000. All major markets reported growth in arrivals, including Middle East (up by about 22%), Oceania and Africa (17%) and the Americas (12%).

In September 2001, the global travel and tourism industry was seriously affected by the attacks in the US and the subsequent conflict in Afghanistan. All the regions involved in the conflict felt the impact, including the Americas, Middle East and South Asia as well as some European countries.

Thailand<.>, however, was only moderately affected, experiencing a much lower impact compared to other competing destinations.

During January-September 2001, visitor arrivals to Thailand grew by about 7%. However, visitor arrivals are projected to decline by about 4% in the last quarter of 2001 (October-December). It is expected that Thailand will end 2001 with total arrivals of 9.87 million, an increase of about 4% over 2000.

Most of the growth is still coming mainly from short- and medium-haul markets including ASEAN, East Asia, Oceania and Europe. Major niche market groups with high potential which can be still motivated and encouraged to travel include families, youth, auto adventure, business travellers, incentive award-winners, honeymooners, divers, golfers and other special interest visitors. Some market groups have shown a strong slowdown, however.

TAT has consistently monitored the situation and adjusted its marketing strategies accordingly. New promotion and public relations campaigns featuring the theme, Amazing Thailand Amazes the World, have been launched under the wider Be My Guest campaign aimed at promoting Thailand internationally.

Both campaigns are designed to boost the image of Thailand and its awareness amongst international visitors as a peaceful, hospitable country with traditional respect for people of all races and religions. It is also designed to position Thailand as a wonderful year-round tourism destination with high quality of value-for-money products and services.

On the outbound front, Thais travelling abroad totalled 1,567,086 during January- August 2001, up by 6.97% over the same period of 2000. However, the number of outbound Thais in September and October declined by 4% and 13% respectively. The number of outbound Thais tends to decline strongly anyway during the year-end period.

As for domestic tourism, the target for domestic trips is still 56.70 million. Major contributing market-segments include youth, families, upper-income people, convention delegates, visitors who often travel overseas and expatriates living in Thailand. A number of special discount programmes and promotion activities have been launched to promote the Thais Tour Thailand domestic tourism campaign.

The travel and tourism industry is projected to start recovering in early 2002, assuming that the global political and economic climate remains stable. Travel and tourism businesses will join forces in launching more promotions which will result in more attractive tour packages and make available a wider range of choice. The global economic downturn will also encourage more intra-regional and inter- regional travel.

As a result of the attacks in the US, the Thai government has paid special attention to safety and security in the travel and tourism industry and taken many measures to make visitors feel safer.

If the global political and economic situation remains stable, and a travel and tourism recovery begins, Thailand can expect to attract about 11.13 million visitors in 2002.

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