BANGKOK, Dec 28 – Inbound tourists to Thailand hit a historic record of almost 22 million persons this year, generating at least Bt900 billion (US$30 billion), a prominent Thai tourism industry leader said today,
Piyamarn Techapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), described 2012 as the ‘golden year’ for Thailand’s tourism industry as circulating revenue from local tourists has also increased to Bt500 billion (US$17 billion).
She said that political stability and the increasing popularity of tourist attractions in Thailand have contributed to the tourism boom, while the ongoing Sino-Japanese conflict has diverted travellers from both countries to Thailand.
Number one ranked in numbers of visitors to Thailand this year is from China with 2.5 million travellers. Russia placed second with one million visitors, while India, South Korea and Japan each produced almost one million people from each country.
She said the Tourism and Sports Ministry will be asked to plan a strategy to wider tourist attractions from the traditional locations in the North and beach resorts on the Andaman Coast to other potential areas such as provinces along the Gulf of Thailand.
Ms Piyamarn said the TCT has also targeted extending foreign tourists’ average five-day stay in Thailand to six days and increasing their daily spending of Bt3,000 (US$100) per person to Bt5,000 (US$170).
According to the plan–expected in the next three years–room rates in Thailand, currently the cheapest in Asia, must be adjusted while locally made merchandise should be redesigned to attract Asian tourists.
She urged the government to the lower import tax on luxury goods to make Thailand more competitive with destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore.