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Thailand tops in tourism receipt growth, UNWTO says

Thailand has ranked among the world's highest in terms of growth in tourism receipts this year according to data collected by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

The "UNWTO World Tourism Barometer" said in a release that of the 25 largest international tourism earners, 10 destinations show double-digit growth, though the figures are not very helpful for comparison purposes, as different periods were applied, ranging from the first six months to the first 10. By that measure, however, Thailand ranked first with growth of 28 per cent.

In the first nine months of the year, Asia and the Pacific showed strong growth in international tourist arrivals, at 6 per cent compared with the same period last year, thanks largely to Asean, which posted 12-per-cent growth.

Overall, international arrivals grew by 5 per cent in the first nine months to 845 million worldwide, an estimated increase of 41 million from the same period last year. Growth was bolstered by Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, which both posted an increase of about 6 per cent.

"International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies and bringing much-needed support to job creation, GDP and the balance of payments of many destinations," Taleb Rifai, UNWTO secretary-general, said in the release.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said the number of foreign-tourist arrivals in Thailand was projected to reach 27 million next year. India and Indonesia, which are two of the world's most populous nations, are promising source markets because their people are looking for countries to travel to, thanks to economic prosperity. Growth in travel here from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, however, is projected to be flat.

Political tension is the major risk for Thailand. He said it was hard to predict the tourism outlook because the political landscape was so uncertain.

Dr Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, senior vice president for finance and administration at Centara Hotels & Resorts, agreed. He said politics was the only risk to the tourism scenario next year. It is a sensitive industry. If no violence breaks out, tourism can move ahead with a flow of foreigner visitors into the Kingdom.


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