Tourism eyes turnaround in latter half

Tourist arrivals in Thailand continued to fall last month, but the Tourism Department is optimistic that full-year numbers will exceed their original target after the junta lifted the curfew in some popular travel destinations.

Tourist arrivals in May totalled 1,736,744, down 10.7% compared with the same period last year, said Arnupap Gaesornsuwan, director-general of the Tourism Department under the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

Statistics from the department showed tourist arrivals in the first five months of 2014 reaching 10,357,388, a drop of 5.9% from a year earlier.

Earnings from tourism during the same period totalled 76 billion baht, a 3.9% year-on-year drop.

The trend of tourist arrivals last month remained somewhat negative as a result of the enforcement of martial law and the military coup.

But the NCPO’s recent announcement of the removal of the curfew in Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya has put the tourism industry back on track.

“The Tourism Department expects tourist arrivals by the end of the year to reach 26.3 million once the NCPO approves more stimulus measures during the remaining part of the year,” Mr Arnupap said.

He said the implementation of proper stimulus measures during the rest of the year could boost earnings from tourism to 1.8 trillion baht, a marginal decline from the original target of 2 trillion baht.

For next year, the ministry has set a tourism revenue target of 2.2 trillion baht.

In May, statistics showed that visits increased by 30.3% from Laos, by 14.1% from Britain, by 7.8% from Vietnam and by 3.8% from Australia.

In terms of revenue, spending rose by 14.1% among Swiss tourists, 12.9% by French and 3.5% by Germans.

Surveying international reaction to Thailand’s situation, 20 countries have issued travel advice to their citizens and 46 countries have given travel warnings.

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