Fewer Malaysians visit Thailand
BANGKOK, 16 August 2012: Thailand is losing tourists from Malaysia, according to the latest data from the Tourism Department of Ministry of Tourism and Sports released yesterday.
Arrivals from Malaysia fell by more than 20% in July after percentage decreases slowed in May and June. Based on the decline from Malaysia and a 30% rise in Chinese tourists, the China market has emerged as the dominant supplier.
Traditionally, Malaysia has always been Thailand’s top inbound travel market, but that is now likely to be challenged as the boom in Chinese travel to the region alters the market mix.
Observers blame the decline in Malaysian visits on security issues, following a car bomb attack in Hat Yai, 31 March. It continues to unnerve cross border travel an important source of business for southern destinations. Arrivals from Malaysia dropped 22.18% in April, 16.42% in May, 11.43% in June and by 24.56% in July.
Data collected at overland checkpoints confirmed deep declines: -42.21% via the main gateway Sadao checkpoint, Songkhla province (92,505); -36.23% via Betong, Yala province (15,770) and -26.29% via Padang Besar, Songkhla province (8,735).
However, arrivals through Kuandone checkpoint in the more peaceful border province of Satun grew 43.27% (7,559).
The ministry’s report suggested that the constant unrest in the Deep South caused the decline. The Ramadan period this year that started 20 July, may have also contributed.
But at the top performance side of the chart, China posted a 33.53% growth with 239,125 tourists. July is the beginning of its summer holiday and the positive trend should continue if security in and around major destinations is not upset by political demonstrations.
Overall, Thailand welcomed 1,799,184 international tourists during July, improving 4.63% year-on-year. Although the arrivals represented just a slight increase from July last year, the performance was well above Q2. This resulted in an overall growth during the seven months of 8.34% (12,431,579) up from a 7.6% growth registered during the first six months ending June.
July’s performance showed improvements in all regions, except for the Middle East posting a significant decline of -31.57%. The largest market East Asia (59.38% share) that includes ASEAN posted a slight growth of 5.99% supplying 1,068,357 tourists.
Within the region but excluding Malaysia, other countries that recorded drops were Hong Kong (-5.14%, 47,410) and Taiwan (-24.97%, 37,758).
Substantial increases were monitored from several ASEAN countries such as Cambodia (+32.12%, 26,093); Philippines (+21.15%, 23,781); Singapore (+46.41%, 77,955) and Vietnam (+18.77%, 239,125).
Europe recorded a 7.91% growth supplying 369,823 tourists. Generally source markets posted single digit growth except for Russia that flourished with a growth of 35.04% (54,919); Germany, +16.22% (41,390); Spain, +18.79% (13,298) and Switzerland, +12.89% (16,633). The important UK market posted a 5.36% decline but still remained in the top 10 list.
Improvement percentage for the Americas, South Asia and Africa were similar: +3.52% (82,032), +2.59% (106,800) and +3.94% (12,997) respectively.
In July, Suvarnabhumi Airport welcomed 1,203,141 tourists (+7.05%) followed by Phuket Airport, 205,891 (+25.06%); Sadao Checkpoint on the Thai-Malaysian border in Songkhla province, 92,505 (-42.21%); First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge checkpoint in Nong Khai province, 87,842 (+16.52%) and the Aranyaprathet checkpoint on the Thai-Cambodian border in Srakaew province, 33,781 (-26.8%).
As for the Thai outbound travel market, the Immigration Bureau reported 571,423 trips in July, a drop of 7.07%. That was due to the Asalaha Bucha and Khao Phansa holiday falling in June rather than in July.
There were 247,802 (-1.13%) outbound trips through Suvarnabhumi Airport followed by the Aranyaprathet checkpoint, 109,291 (+2.84%); Sadao checkpoint, 53,828 (-23.51%); First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge checkpoint, 26,915 (-21.19%) and Sungai Kolok on Thai-Malaysian border in Narathiwat, 30,204 (+20.36%).
The data was collected by the Immigration Bureau from all checkpoints – air, land and sea and is preliminary data subject to review.