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East Asian tourist arrivals to see 24% drop this year

The number of visitors from East Asia to Thailand this year is expected to drop by up to 24 per cent due to the political turmoil and the recent military coup, Tourism Authority of Thailand executive director Srisuda Wanapinyosak said.

Up until the May 22 coup, arrivals from the five countries in the region had dropped 5.9 per cent year on year to 10.3 million. The decline was blamed on the street demonstrations that started last October.

From January to May, the Hong Kong market dropped 39 per cent, Taiwan 27 per cent, China 20 per cent, Japan 19 per cent and South Korea 10 per cent.

"All the markets were hit and dropped further last month because of the coup and curfew," Srisuda said.

Due to the political turmoil, TAT has revised down East Asian arrivals this year by between 14 and 24 per cent.

In a bid to revive the markets, the authority plans to waive the visa fee for China and subsidise travel insurance for tourists from Hong Kong.

Arrivals from South Korea, like many key markets, plunged more than 50 per cent following the coup. The South Korean government has maintained a travel warning for travelling to Thailand.

However, Srisuda expects arrivals to the Kingdom to rebound quickly after curfew was lifted in Bangkok last Friday. Travel operators were re-marketing Thailand in their packages, the TAT executive said.

Moreover, Srisuda said the launch of new budget carrier Thai AirAsia X's daily service between Bangkok and Seoul would encourage Koreans to return to Thailand.

The airline is confident it will have a 100 per cent load factor for all flights over the next few months.


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