BANGKOK, 30 January 2015: Thailand tourism sector will face challenges from an economic downturn in Europe and Russia this year, which has softened the two currencies against the Thai baht.
Speaking at the 13th Association of Thai Travel Agents and Thai Hotels Association annual meeting, Wednesday, ATTA president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn told members that last year was tough due to political factors, but economic considerations will challenge agents in 2015.
“Last year was a tough due to political instability…but the country saw recovery in the last quarter of last year.”
He said: “This year tourism should improve, but not enough to recover and achieve the original target of 29.5 million… instead we have to settle for 27 million.”
“Russia is one of Thailand’s top markets and the decline is around 70% in terms of value against the Thai baht.”
Russian tourist arrivals are expected to plunge 30%, this year. In the worst case, arrivals could fall 70% cutting supply by a 1 million trips.
Last year, Thailand received 1.6 million Russian tourists, down 8% from 1.7 million in 2013.
The president suggested that to balance the shortfall agents would have to seek other markets.
“China and ASEAN, particularly Indonesia and Myanmar, are alternative markets we can look at.”
Regarding the Discover Thainess campaign, he said it would support domestic tourism.
“The campaign especially the 12 Don’t Miss Destinations concept could help to encourage Thais to travel. It is aimed at foreigners…but some destinations lack convenient transport, direct flights, so tour operators will not be keen to promote them.”
The 12 must see destinations cover: Lampang; Nan; Phetchabun; Loei; Buri Ram; Samut Songkram; Ratchaburi; Trat; Chanthaburi; Trang; Chumphon; and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
THA president, Surapong Techaruvichit, said the country’s situation was stable. However the private sector would need to pressure the government to withdraw martial law.
He added: “To encourage tourism the country should restore beaches, and crackdown on illegal hotels, taxi scams.”
Thailand also should tighten service and product quality.
Last year, the kingdom welcomed 24.7 million tourists down 6.6% from 26.5 million in 2013. Tourism revenue also declined 4.93% from THB1.207 trillion to THB1.147 trillion.