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NEWS UPDATES 16 July 2010

Foreign arrivals recovering in Thailand

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Improving prospects for tourist arrivals have prompted the Tourism Council of Thailand to revise up its projection for the year to between 15.19 million and 15.57 million foreign visitors, reports the Bangkok Post.

The council earlier projected a bleak outlook following the Bangkok riots on May 19, saying the impact on tourism would be even worse than the fallout from the airports seizure by the People's Alliance for Democracy in late 2008.

The council in late May forecast that the country would attract just 13 million foreign tourists this year, a sharp drop from its earlier projection of 16 million.

"A sharp recovery is clearly visible in the second half due to the world economic recovery and the government's active measures to boost the industry," said council president Kongkrit Hiranyakit.

He estimated that foreign arrivals in May fell by 11.1 percent from the same month last year. Arrivals last month were down by 3.1 percent year-on-year, but he said "a relatively healthy increase in the first quarter has fortunately helped offset the drop during those two months." During the first half foreign arrivals increased by 13.3 percent from a year earlier to 7.49 million, he said.

The council expects the second-half figure to be up by 2.2 to 2.7 percent to between 7.71 million and 8.08 million.

For the full year, foreign tourists are expected to generate 550-570 billion baht in revenue. Mr Kongkrit said average occupancy of hotels in key tourism areas, especially in southern and northern Thailand, was now close to the normal low-season rate of about 55 to 60 percent. A notable revival in Asian visitors is being seen this quarter, he said.

The council has also forecast trips by Thai tourists at 90.72 million this year, a rise of 5 percent from last year, with revenue of 390 billion baht.

Chulalongkorn University's latest survey on tourism confidence found that entrepreneurs believed the industry would need four to six months for a full recovery from the lows of late May.

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