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Suvarnabhumi » Royal celebrations lift visitor arrivals to Thailand in 2006

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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The positive global publicity generated by the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s Accession to the throne was a major contributing factor for Thailand’s tourism industry recording 13.82 million visitor arrivals in 2006, up by more than 20% over 2005.

The high rate of increase in 2006 was a reflection of the country’s tourism industry returning to normal following the severe impact of the tsunami in 2005, and 2007 is likely to see arrivals settling down to a more modest single-digit growth level of 7% to just under 15 million.

These details are included in a state of the market analysis produced by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and are now being made available for public release.

According to TAT Governor Mrs Phornsiri Manoharn, “There is little doubt that the massive global publicity generated by His Majesty’s 60th year on the throne, plus the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek in Chiang Mai went a long way towards presenting a positive image of Thailand worldwide.

“This was supported by many other contributing factors, such as the start of new low-cost flights by airlines like Jetstar Asia from Australia to Phuket, the start of new Thai Airways International flights to Indian cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad, and new charter flights from Korea and Europe.”

Mrs Phornsiri noted that Korea joined the club of countries generating more than one million annual visitor arrivals for Thailand, along with Malaysia and Japan. It is widely projected that China will join the club this year, and India follow suit not long after.

Worldwide, and across all regions, Thailand continued to benefit from good global economic trading conditions, the absence of any serious crisis and the continued propensity of people to travel for leisure, business, conventions and self-indulgence.

There was strong growth across all source markets of Northeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Oceania, North America and South Asia.

Many airlines resumed flying to Phuket and other new airlines like Hong Kong Express started flights to Chiang Mai. New charters were also launched such as St Petersburg-Phuket for the Russian market.

From the Middle East, additional capacity continued to be mounted by airlines like Etihad, Qatar Airways, and Emirates generating new arrivals from both the Middle East as well as other points in Europe through the airlines’ respective hubs in the Gulf.

In addition, new markets like Vietnam are showing substantial promise for future growth. South Africa is also producing good numbers, thanks to the new flights by Thai Airways from Johannesburg to Bangkok.

This year, according to Mrs Phornsiri, the post-tsunami growth rate of 20% is unlikely to be attained, which should give the country a golden opportunity to adjust many of the tourism policies and marketing strategies in line with the sufficiency economy principles of His Majesty the King.

“Our traditional strengths of our geographical location, good airline access, popular products, good value for money, and visa-free accessibility for citizens of many countries will ensure that visitors keep coming.

In the first two months of 2007, visitor arrivals have totalled 2.58 million, a small growth of 5%.  (Tourism Authority of Thailand)

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