BANGKOK, Jan 25 — The deepening political turmoil in Thailand, along with a political impasse that may not be resolved soon, will inevitably affect the numbers of inbound tourists, as visits by one million overseas travelers could be lost if the protest prolong until mid-2014, according to a leading economic think tank.
Kasikorn Research Centre (KResearch) said the tourism industry this year still has bright prospects as business could grow if the political turmoil ends soon.
KResearch said 29 million foreign tourists were forecasted to visit the country this year, an 8.5 per cent increase from the previous year and could generate more than Bt1.4 trillion in income, as the European economy was picking up and China has relaxed its rules and regulations concerning the tourism business.
The ASEAN Ecomomic Community (AEC) set to be established by 2015 and new low cost airlines have facilitated tourists visiting Thailand, KResearch said.
However, the ongoing political crisis which led to the invocation of the Emergency Decree on January 22 could suppress the growth of tourism business.
KResearch said that if the protest prolonged to the Q1, the numbers of foreign tourists would dwindle by 500,000 to 28.5 million tourists, generating Bt1.38 trillion, Bt20 billion lower than targeted.
If the demonstration dragged into mid 2014, Thailand could lost one million tourists, down to 28 million, and the income from tourism business would stand at Bt1.35 trillion or a Bt50 billion loss from last year.
KResearch has urged all parties concerned–government and private sectors, as well as media and the general public–to seriously and sincerely cooperate to find solutions out of the political turmoil.