Tourist numbers rise in Thailand amid growing concerns

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Despite more visitors and revenue to Thailand, the tourism industry appears worried by economic problems, competition, and also that visitors are concentrated in specific areas.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), as well as Chulalongkorn University recently reported results from a survey of six hundred tourism-related businesses, 350 foreign tourists and 350 Thai tourists in Q2 this year.

The survey revealed the tourist industry had gained confidence in Q2 compared with the first three months of the year but the third quarter, the low season in Thailand, was not certain.

The drop in confidence comes from fierce competition between business operators, as well as economic problems leading tourists to spend less, says TCT president Ittirith Kinglake.

Based on the survey results, it is expected that 33.87 million tourists will visit the country this year, a rise of 13.35 percent from last year, with revenue from foreigners estimated at around 1.71 trillion Baht, a rise of 17.83 percent.

Mr Ittirith said that operator confidence will not rise accordingly however, and that besides the economic woes and more competition, the higher tourist numbers only apply to certain groups such as the Chinese.

In Q3 this year, the number of ASEAN visitors is expected to rise by 7 percent to just over 2 million, with those from east Asia by 26 percent to around 4 million. European tourists are set to rise by 3.4 percent to 1.11 million.

As far as Chinese tourists are concerned, an increase of 27 percent is expected, with 2.68 million in Q3, and exceeding ten million this year for the first time. Last year, 8.1 million Chinese visited Thailand.

Unfortunately, foreign tourists appear less satisfied with Thailand lately, mainly due to poor transport. Thai tourism operators and local tourists reportedly share the same view, said Mr Ittirith.

Foreign visitors would like lower fares, more domestic flights, improved local transport, as well as alternative modes of travel like passenger boats, in addition to better quality destinations and a higher standard of service.

SOURCE: The Phuket News.

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