The Nation



TAT stands by forecast for 7.28% growth in 2014 arrivals

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is still projecting rising numbers of foreign-tourist arrivals in the new year, especially from China, although the political tension in the Kingdom is a major risk.

TAT says it will keep monitoring the situation closely to see how things develop next quarter. It acknowledged that it might lower its growth forecast for arrivals if violence breaks out during the period.

However, it said forward-booking performance for the first quarter of next year was still positive.

Currently, TAT still expects arrivals to grow by 7.28 per cent to 28.01 million in 2014, while tourism revenue will rise by 13 per cent to about Bt1.33 trillion. These figures were predicted at its operational planning conference for 2014, held last July.

Last Friday, the Tourism Council of Thailand also announced its projections for next year. It said the number of foreign tourists would increase to 29.92 million, up from an estimate 26.69 million this year. Tourism revenue would grow by 18 per cent to about Bt1.35 trillion.

Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT's deputy governor for international marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas), said national politics and the world's economic instability would be threats to the tourism industry.

However, TAT would work even harder to promote Thailand in secondary cities globally. Dublin, Ireland, and Manchester, England, are examples, as are Atlanta, Philadelphia, Denver and Phoenix in the United States, as well as Edmonton in the Canadian province of Alberta.

In the US, TAT will promote Thailand as a destination for medical services. Chile and Colombia in Latin America are also in focus.

Pongsathorn Kessasamli, TAT's deputy governor for international marketing (Asia and South Pacific), said Chinese tourists would be a key driver to boost tourism performance in 2014. TAT would look for ways to create cultural connectivity with China to draw "quality tourists", a euphemism for big spenders.

Even though hit by new legislation taking effect this October to crack down on so-called zero-dollar tours, this market still has room to grow in the long term.

Next year, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals into the Kingdom is projected to grow by 15 per cent to 5.12 million, up from 4.46 million estimated this year. Revenue contributed by Chinese tourists is expected to increase by 22 per cent from the Bt176 billion projected for 2013.

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