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Joint meet for revival of tourism

The Tourism Authority of Thailand yesterday met with eight tourism associations to discuss ways to revitalise the industry and also insisted on maintaining its target of Bt2.2 trillion in tourism revenue in 2015, even though the political future remains uncertain. The meeting agreed that the state of emergency, which was imposed on January 22, was the centre of the trouble hitting the industry. Apparently, the impact is big as foreign tourist confidence ebbs with fears of escalating violence.

The associations were the Tourism Council of Thailand, Association of Thai Travel Agents, Thai Hotels Association, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, Thai Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Association, Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association, Association of Thai Tourism Marketing and Thai-Japan Tourist Association.

Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT's governor, said the political turmoil has affected the tourism industry, but only ''slightly''. The country still has more time in the third and fourth quarters of this year to bring foreign tourists back to the Kingdom.

Hard-hit markets

Last month, foreign arrivals at immigration checkpoints nationwide grew only 0.06 per cent to 2.3 million, below TAT's expectations. The hard-hit markets were China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.

Bookings for next month and April also are dropping, especially from East Asia with a decline of 12 per cent. TAT this year forecasts foreign tourist arrivals reaching 28.01 million and tourism revenue Bt1.35 trillion. Combined with domestic tourism, revenue will total Bt2 trillion.

Amid the hard times, TAT's key executives in charge of regions would work in harmony to map out a plan to attract more foreign tourists to offset the missing numbers. China is an example. Its head may look for new cities to lure Chinese to visit here. If this does not work, heads of countries in Europe may give a hand because the market there is still stable.

On January 19, a familiarisation trip will be launched by inviting foreign media and buyers here to get real information. ITB in Berlin, the world's leading travel trade show, will also be a platform for rebuilding tourists' and operators' confidence. It will be held from March 5-9. Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the emergency decree has made Thailand miss out on business opportunities. She urged the government to lift the decree within two months to ease the tensions. With that plan, the industry can move ahead to achieve its projection. Tourism is a growth engine for the economy at a time when industries are in trouble.


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