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First two quarters could see Bt90-bn blow to tourism

THE TOURISM Authority of Thailand (TAT) believes the financial damage from the current political unrest could reach Bt90 billion for the first two quarters of this year, especially if the situation becomes more violent or drags on into April.

TAT and eight tourism associations are trying to restore the confidence of tourists to achieve the target of 900,000 foreign visitors in the final two quarters of the year, TAT governor Thawatchai Arunyik said.

Group tours, which account for 30-35 per cent of inbound tourists, are most affected by the situation. TAT is working with the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), the Association of Thai Travel Agents and the Thai Hotel Association, with an emphasis on value-added attractions targeting Asians tourists, for whom the journey to Thailand is shorter than for those in the West.

TCT president Piyaman Techapaiboon has suggested promotional campaigns in conjunction with local hotels for the four major tourist destinations: Bangkok, Pattaya-Rayong, Hua Hin-Cha-am and Kanchanaburi. The council will draft a tourism-restoration plan to be proposed to the TAT next month.

The political unrest resulted in fewer Chinese tourists this past Lunar New Year, but volume could pick up to the normal number of about 150,000 Chinese coming in for the Songkran Festival in April if the anti-government protests subside next month, according to the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association. However, if the unrest continues, the Kingdom can expect about 60 per cent of last year's volume of inbound Chinese.

Several foreign airlines, charter flights from China, and Thai Airways International have reduced or temporarily suspended services to Bangkok for February and March.


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