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Suvarnabhumi » European arrivals via Suvarnabhumi Airport rose year-on-year to 2.1 million

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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The number of European visitors to Thailand is likely to grow by 20-25% in the coming high season and could compensate for falling arrivals from East Asia, said the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Based on the nine-month figure, arrivals from Europe via Suvarnabhumi Airport rose about 13% year-on-year to 2.1 million. Tourists from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe showed the highest growth, helping to draw total arrivals from the region to 30% of the projected 14.8 million foreign tourists this year.

Political factors and a poor Thai economy caused East Asian tourism to drop, with only 3.5 million Japanese visitors in the first nine months, compared with 3.81 million the same period of 2006.

TAT governor Phornsiri Manoharn attributed the growth to more intensive tourism programmes this year and the addition of more flights from Europe to Phuket and Surat Thani, two popular tourism venues in the South.

Some airlines resumed flights last month after suspending business since the South was hit by the tsunami three years ago. According to Mrs Phornsiri, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) began thrice-weekly service between Stockholm and Bangkok on Monday. As well, Thai Airways International resumed its one flight a week between Stockholm and the Thai capital after suspending the route for 10 years.

The Stockholm – Bangkok route would complement SAS’s existing Copenhagen-Bangkok route with an Airbus A340-300, offering passengers a choice.

Swedish travellers, who totalled 1.41 million in the first nine months, enjoy visa-free entry to Thailand, she said.

Jamnong Junnapiya, director of the TAT office for France and Benelux, said that the charter airline Martinair had launched weekly Brussels – Phuket flights and a weekly charter flight from Amsterdam to Phuket.

Tour operators in Belgium such as Thomas Cook Neckermann, Pegase, and Best have tour plans for Thailand. This could increase the number of visitors from Belgium, which totalled 66,800 last year, she said.

Visitors from France via Suvarnabhumi Airport also increased significantly by 23% to 225,800 in the first nine months. (BkkPost)

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