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November 22, 2008

Thai tourist arrivals to drop on US crisis – central bank
The financial crisis in the United States will indirectly affect Thailand's tourism industry since it has worsened economies of the countries from which the greatest numbers of tourists visit, state news agency TNA quoted the Bank of Thailand (BoT) as saying.

Kesarin Tansuwannarat, economist at the BoT Local Economy Division, said in an article on "The US Financial Crisis: How It Affects Thai Tourism" that some 10.5 million foreign tourists had annually visited Thailand since the economic crisis eased in 2000.

The increased number of foreign arrivals had generated revenues of 500 billion baht ($14.3 billion)-600 billion or 10 percent of the value of Thailand's total exports.

In the past, the baht had strengthened so markedly that costs of traveling locally had increased in the eyes of foreign tourists. This, coupled with the ongoing unrest in the deep South and higher fuel prices, had not reduced the number of foreign tourists in Thailand.

Last year, the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand reached 14.5 million, while in the first nine months of this year, foreign arrivals totaled 11.3 million.

The continued increase in the number of foreign tourists showed that the Thai tourism sector remains strong and could survive in a midst of many negative factors.

However, the US financial crisis had put economies of countries providing the most tourists to Thailand into a slowdown or even into recession.

They include the United Kingdom, Japan and the European Union, countries where most intending tourists prefer to visit Thailand.

Since tourists from these countries are now earning less money and have lost funds in investments and retirement plans due to the impact of the US economic crisis, Thailand's tourism sector now runs the risk of slowing down.

More importantly, the tourists from Japan, UK and EU are quality ones who spend up to 4,000 baht per day because most prefer to stay at luxury hotels, eat at restaurants, go shopping at premium prices, and take long trips.

Once the number of foreign tourists from these countries declined, it would definitely affect Thailand's revenue earned from tourism.

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