The tourism Council of Thailand has lined up short-term plans to make sure the country reaches a revised target of 26.8 million international arrivals this year.
The TCT will ask the ruling junta to talk with representatives of the European Union about complaints over safety and tourist scams. Australia has joined the EU in the complaints.
These complaints have been dragging on for a couple of years, but now relations with the EU have worsened because of its strong opposition to the recent seizure of political power here by the military. Adding to this is a labour issue between Thailand and the United States.
“Tourism is not related to either issue directly, but tourists may be concerned about safety, so we want the military to reassure them,” said Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the TCT.
Tourists from EU countries account for 17 per cent of the total, the second-biggest group after Asians.
The junta will also be asked to waive visa fees for visitors from mainland China and Taiwan for 12 months in order to lure them back to the Kingdom.
To boost domestic travel, the TCT wants government organisations to hold their meetings and conferences in the provinces to fill up hotel rooms and generate income for communities during the low season. Moreover, visits from bordering countries such as Malaysia could boost tourism in the remaining months of the year. Some big events and activities including familiarisation trips and roadshows are needed before the high season returns.
According to the TCT, if its plans are carried out successfully, the country can expect to welcome 26.8 million international arrivals this year. That is down from its original projection of 28.6 million, but it is still a slight increase over last year’s 26.5 million, and would translate into Bt1.2 trillion in tourism revenue.
Without the recommended measures, however, the TCT fears that the number of visitors will plunge to 25.5 million.
The TCT reports that tourism-industry confidence in the second quarter was the lowest for that quarter in the past three years. However, the council hopes tourism will rebound in the third and fourth quarters.
TMB Analysis Centre reported that the tourism sector would recover faster than the automotive, property, construction and infrastructure sectors but a bit slower than consumer-products, retail, and food businesses.
Kasikorn Research Centre reported that tourist numbers dropped by 4.4 per cent during the first six months. It earlier predicted 4.6-per-cent growth in first half of this year.