BANGKOK, Dec 9 – The numbers of Thailand’s tourist arrivals dropped almost 18 per cent in November year-on-year due to the flood crisis from around 1.4 million to 1.2 million, particularly in Bangkok and the central part of the country.
The figure was announced at a news conference on the status of foreign travellers from Jan-Nov 2011 by the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
However, over 17 million tourists entered the country in the first 11 months, a higher number of tourist arrivals compared to last year’s 15.9 million during the comparable period.
About 1.5 million travellers are expected to visit Thailand in December. Should the predicted figure be achieved, the number of tourist arrivals this year will reach 18.5 million, which is still a 20 per cent rise year-on-year, despite the floods.
Tourism Ministry Permanent Secretary Suwat Sittilor said tourist arrivals will rise this month. Potential visitors who previously misunderstood that the images of a flooded Don Mueang Airport were Suvarnabhumi Airport now understand correctly that the gateway to the country is wide open.
Although tourist arrivals for 2011 would not reach the targeted 19.5 million, Tourism Department Director-General Supon Sripan said Thailand would in fact receive more travellers this year than last, and that the 19.5 million goal had been adjusted due to the tendency of tourist arrivals to increase unexpectedly early this year.
TAT Governor Surapol Sawetseranee added the flood crisis took place temporarily for eight weeks and should be compared to a brownout situation in some areas of the country. The situation has returned to normal and entered the rehabilitation period.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has distributed updated information on the flooding situation through domestic and international press and media, taking them to the actual areas to visit after floodwaters recede, as well as travelling overseas to promote better understanding on the matter.
For 2012, the international tourist arrivals are targeted at 19.55 million with revenues of Bt766 billion, while the volume of domestic travellers is at 93.65 million with over Bt450 billion income, according to Governor Surapol.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Sports Ministry Spokesman Watchara Kannikar passed on a message to the government that rehabilitation management for Thai tourism would be more practical if its budget would not be reduced any further.