ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Tourist groups want Thai conflicts to end
Council of Thailand (TCT), said tourism had been damaged by the past two or three years of political unrest.
The number of international arrivals to Thailand should grow 8 percent per year and the country should have expected 18 million tourists this year. However, the TCT has revised its forecast down to 17 million due to various threats, including political unrest, he said.
The TCT said political conflict was one of three major factors that could hit the tourism industry this year. The other two are disease and global terrorism.
Kongkrit said that if the new government was able to solve the political problems, the tourism business would shift to higher growth rates than those seen over the past decade.
"I would also call on the new government to reduce conflict between Thailand and neighbouring countries as this factor also disturbs tourism," he said.
According to the TCT, tourism accounts for 10 percent of GDP and employs 2.5 million people. The sector is expected to generate revenue of Bt100 billion this year.
"I still haven't seen any political parties campaigning about tourism, but the TCT plans to invite five big parties to debate their tourism policies," he said.
Apichart Sankary, former president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said tourism needed the government to support it by ending conflict in the country.
He said many tourists had already shifted to other countries to avoid violence in Thailand. "The red-shirt people last week held a rally at Ratchaprasong with no physical damage, but many tourists checked out of hotels in the area," Aprichart said.
Aside from the political conflict, the council also urged the new government to work on three other issues: improving infrastructure, reducing tourist scamming and creating new products and attractions.
A recent study showed that 70 percent of tourists who came to Thailand were so-called "free individual tourists" and that they were disappointed with bad infrastructure, even in major tourist destinations like Phuket and Chiang Mai.
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