Bleak prospects for Amazing Thailand sales

Economy June 03, 2014 00:00

By Suchat Sritama
The Nation

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Political tension is expected to further take a toll on the Thai tourism sector, including the upcoming annual shopping festival Amazing Thailand Grand Sales, which will kick off later this month.Air bookings to Thailand have seen a fall since the militar

The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) has once again revised down the number of arrivals due to the continuing political tension. It estimated that 1.2 million tourists would skip travelling to the Kingdom over the next few months due to security fears.
This may have an enormous impact on the annual two-month shopping festival, scheduled to take place nationwide from June 13 to August 15. Hundreds of shopping malls, stores and related business will offer up to 70 per cent discount at the Amazing Thailand Grand Sales.
Tourism council vice president, Pornthip Hirunkate said tourist spending per head during the festival is usually more than an average of Bt4,000 per head, which means the country risks further losses.Rival competitors like Hong Kong and Singapore also hold similar events to attract tourists during the low season. And they are expected to benefit from the arrival of more tourists shifting from Thailand.
The council believes that inbound arrivals would drop more than 15 per cent during the shopping festival. A lot of tourists have security fears, as curfew is still enforced.The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has organised the annual shopping campaign 16 times in the past to lure heavy spenders, as well as to beat shopping-destination places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia
The campaign mainly targets 12 nations, including China, Japan, Indonesia, Russia, India, and the United Arab Emirates.Thailand was projected to get 28 million visitors this year, but the TCT has reduced the figure to 26.8 million due to the political turmoil. 
The revised number may exceed last year’s figure of 26.7 million.Domestic tourism, meanwhile, should enjoy a growth rate of 13 per cent over the previous year. Domestic revenue is expected at Bt700 million while income from tourists will be lower than the projected Bt1.2 trillion.   
According to a report from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) meeting that took place in Doha last weekend, airline bookings to Thailand have collapsed since the Thai military took over the government on May 22 and declared curfew as well as imposed security measures.
To date, more than 50 countries have maintained their travel advisories, warning their citizens to avoid travelling to Thailand. 
At least three countries, Korea, Philippines and Hong Kong have issued top-alert warnings to its citizens not to visit Thailand at this time.PATA members also predicted that Thai tourism, which accounts for 10 per cent of the economy, would take a hit because of the political issue. 
On May 19, there were about 28,000 inbound bookings for Thailand every day, but on May 23, the daily tally was 5,000 cancellations.Thai travel operators said that advance bookings from short-haul countries such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and Japan dramatically dropped since last month.However, many tourists from long-haul markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, Scandinavia, and the US maintained their plans to visit Thailand.