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'Lifting' fails to boost tourism

The tourism industry will remain in trouble in the first quarter of this year, despite the lifting of the state of emergency, according to the Association of Thai Travel Agents.

The recent end to the emergency decree has not restored the confidence of foreign tourists.

Tour agents themselves are reluctant to start marketing more aggressively, as they are afraid they will not get a good response from potential travellers.

The industry needs two to three months to see a positive trend from the market, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the association, said yesterday.

Thai Airways International, the national carrier, also sees no signs of a return of foreign travellers.

Chokchai Panyayong, THAI acting president, said on Wednesday that at least two to three months were needed to reassure travellers. Travel agents have to restart marketing campaigns for tour packages.

According to the association's data, tourist arrivals via its travel agent members have been dropping this year: 293,980 in January this year compared to 388,888 in the same month last year; 262,987 in February against 423,062 in the same month last year; 87,655 from March 1-10 this year, compared to 437,159 for the whole of March last year.

From January-March 10, 15 markets posted a drop - Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Germany, France, the UK, Taiwan, the US, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, Italy and Malaysia. Russia fell 7.42 per cent to 178,030, while China declined 57.73 per cent to 118,311. Japan decreased 63.97 per cent to 26,460 and South Korea slipped 55.88 per cent to 20,700. India was down 48.58 per cent to 19,591.

These five are the major markets for Thai tourism.

Last year, 4.28 million foreign tourists bought packages via the association's networks and the figure is projected to decline, hit by the falling trend.


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