TOURIST ARRIVALS from the top 15 foreign markets were down during the first half of the year, forcing operators to cut package deals by up to 40 per cent to survive.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents’ inbound business from the top 15 countries declined by 14.6-87.5 per cent from the same half last year. This huge drop caused the total number of the association’s guests to plunge by 42 per cent to 4.2 million.
Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and mainland China saw the biggest drops of 87.5, 81.4, 69.3, 65.8 and 57.4 per cent, while Italy, the United States, Russia, France and Australia slid 14.6-27.3 per cent.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the trade group, said yesterday that the key factors were political chaos and travel advisories issued after the military coup and curfew imposition in May.
The strong earthquake in the North and bloody bomb attacks in the South also scared travellers away from Thailand.
“The travel industry this year again got hurt a lot from political problems. We urge whoever is in power and all leaders to please not allow these problem to disturb the economy and business, especially tourism,” he said.
Many operators in mainland China, Hong Kong and South Korea are now cutting the cost of their packages for Thailand by up to 40 per cent to retrieve customers.
Some airlines are also dangling special offers this and next month to attract vacationers.
“To survive and regain tourists’ confidence, operators need to cut the costs of their packages, but this is just a short-term promotion,” he said.
About 1,000 travel writers and bloggers from over the world are due to arrive this month, so the number of visitors can be expected to return to growth from August until the end of the high season in April.