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NEWS UPDATES 27 July 2010

Thai tourist arrivals increase

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Foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand during the first six months of this year rose 13.7 percent from a year earlier despite the sharp decline during the political turmoil in May and June.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry said arrivals totalled 7,515,025 in the first half, compared with 6,609,313 in the same period of 2009, the Bangkok Post reports.

The growth reflected the fact that the serious impact from the unrest in the capital was limited and high growth in the first four months offset a sharp decline in May and June. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is still optimistic that the number of foreign visitors will meet its target of 14.5 million by year-end, while the ministry revised up the projection to 14.97 million from 14.1 million earlier.

Suraphon Svetsreni, the TAT governor, said the strong market recovery stemmed from an improvement of the world economy, and efforts by the Thai tourism private sector, as well as high-profile promotions such as the Thailand Today junket that brought in hundreds of travel executives and media members.

"Asian economies have shown steady improvements and short-haul markets such as India, China and Indonesia are showing great promise," he said.

The airline industry also gave a big lift with more flights from key markets such as Australia, Japan, and Singapore. Many countries are also relaxing or withdrawing their travel warnings to Thailand, and markets such as China, Russia and India are showing significant growth, Mr. Suraphon said.

In the first-half arrivals, East Asian visitors to Thailand had the biggest share with a total of 3.67 million. Among them, Malaysians topped the list with 930,660, followed by Japanese at 475,386, Chinese at 471,462, and Koreans at 382,394.

Ranked second were tourists from Europe, up 15.86 percent to 2.27 million. Among the Europeans, the United Kingdom was the largest with 412,035, up 2.3 percent, followed by Germany with 320,368, up 15.9 percent, and Russia at 305,415, up 102.3 percent. Arrivals from the Americas increased by 3.64 percent to 431,381. Tourists from the United States rose 1.95 percent to 310,454 while arrivals from Brazil and Canada showed growth of 17.3 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

Visitors from South Asia grew by 16 percent to 446,935 with all markets doing well. India has become a primary market with arrivals up 18.4 percent to 344,063, making it the region's fastest-growing market.

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