Thailand tourism healthy

Tourists at the Emerald Buddha temple. Photo: Patipat Janthong

Thailand is likely to meet its target of 35 million international visitors this year, according to a study by the Kasikorn Research Centre.

It expects that inbound tourism will continue to expand. According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 20.41 million tourists came to Thailand during the first seven months, rising 4.5% over the same period last year. The revenue from foreigners also increased 6.1% to 1.03 trillion baht.

The tourism-friendly environment and proactive marketing plans of the government are primarily responsible for the growth, according to the research centre.

Chinese tourists are expected to continue to boost Thai tourism receipts. In addition, tensions between China and South Korea have prompted many Chinese tourists to avoid holidays in South Korea, and choose other destinations -- including Thailand -- instead.

As a result, Kasikorn Research Centre has revised its previous forecast on the number of foreign-tourist arrivals to Thailand in 2017, from 34.15 million to 35.20 million, or 8.2%. Earnings from foreign tourists are expected to reach 1.81 trillion baht.

The report also states that the tourism sector will not benefit from the upward trend of Thai currency because the currencies used by the majority of tourists are also moving in the same direction as the baht.

"We think that tourists generally consider other factors in deciding a holiday destination. Also, Thailand has a variety of tourism experiences to offer, catering to the diverse preferences of many travellers. Thai tourism business is also highly competitive -- like some operators are using pricing strategies to attract more inbound tourists," stated the report.

According to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), the overall number of passengers in the region during the past seven months is also on the rise.

Asian airlines carry a combined total of 182 million international passengers, 5.3% more than over the same period last year. International passenger demand continued to be spurred by the availability of affordable airfares and increased network connections, said AAPA director-general Andrew Herdman.

For the third quarter of this year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects the number of international arrivals to grow 5%, to 8.7 million, generating 460 billion baht in revenue, up 10% from the same period of last year.

"A Chinese market recovery that started in May also had a positive effect on Thailand's overall tourism arrivals. At the same time, long-haul markets -- including the US and Russia -- continue to grow steadily," said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

New air-travel access from Taiwan, Indonesia, China and Turkey is another contributor to the growth. Thailand also ranked among top destinations, with a 4% share of overall future bookings from June to August.

TAT expects that the tourism target for this year is achievable, Yuthasak said.

Bicycle race

The first Asian Bike Tour is currently under way in the North. About 1,000 cyclists have joined, including international cyclists from China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Taiwan.

The event is organised by the Chiang Rai Office of Tourism and Sports, and aims to promote tourism in the region. The race started last Friday and will end today.

The total cycling course is 1,200km, from Chiang Rai to Phayao, Phrae and Nan, and finishing in Chiang Rai. The cyclists with the 10 highest scores will receive trophies and cash prizes worth 550,000 baht in total.


Airlines update

Nok Air will stop Bangkok-Hanoi flights on Oct 27.

As of now, the airline flies four days a week to the Vietnam capital. Even after Oct 27, it will retain direct flights between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

The airline plans to launch Mae Sot-Yangon flights in November -- three a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays -- using a Bombardier Q400, which can accommodate 86 passengers.

Flights will depart from Mae Sot at 11.40am and arrive in Yangon at 12.10pm. The return flight from Yangon will be 1pm and arrive at Mae Sot at 2.30pm.


Qatar Airways will launch direct flights between Doha and Chiang Mai on Dec 7.

It will fly with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, offering 22 business-class seats and 232 economy seats. The flight will take off from Hamad International Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8.05pm. Arrival time at Chiang Mai Airport will be 6am. Total travel time is almost six hours.

The return flight from Chiang Mai will be at 7.10am and start on Dec 8, and will arrive in Doha at 10.55am.


Hotels update

Kata Group has launched Beyond Hotel at Patong in Phuket.

The hotel is located on a 7.5 rai plot of land on Sawatdirak Road, about 100m from Patong Beach. It features 161 rooms and suites, from 30-44m².

Facilities include a restaurant, rooftop bar, swimming pool and conference rooms.


M Social Hotel in Singapore is listed among the world's top 10 high-tech hotels by Skyscanner, a global travel search site.

The hotel introduced a room service robot called Aura (for Automated Room-Service Associate) last month.

Developed by the California-based company Savioke, the robot is designed to deliver room amenities to guests.

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