BANGKOK, 22 March 2016: Ministry of Tourism and Sports reports international arrivals to Thailand passed the 6 million mark, an improvement of 15.48% during January to February, this year.
Released last week, the ministry’s data showed the country attracted 6,090,203 visits during the first two months of this year compared to 5,273,791 visits during the same period last year.
Based on Immigration Bureau’s head count of people passing through passport checks at all border checkpoints (land, air and sea) the total does not identify visits for the purpose of tourism.
Association of Thai Travel agents reported just over 1 million visitors travelled on packages handled by its member companies January to February. They entered the country through Bangkok’s two airports.
ATTA has no record of clients entering the country at other gateway airports such as Phuket, Samui or Chiang Mai. Phuket would be substantial due the volume of direct flights to the island destination.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said she was encouraging tour operators to pay more attention to ASEAN tourists, this year, to balance business in case there was a recession in China.
“This year, ASEAN tourists could grow to 7 million visits, which would be close to the volume of Chinese tourist arrivals, while the European market, especially Russia, is expected to improve significantly this year.”
The minister also suggested tour operators should tap new markets such as the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to expand business opportunities.
In February alone, visits recorded at border checkpoints reached 3,088,876, an increase of 15.96% over 2,663,650 during the same month last year.
By regions, all markets recorded increases in the second month of the year except the Oceania.
East Asia (ASEAN included) recorded the highest growth of 19.15% from 1,704,198 to 2,030,624 visits.
The markets that showed improvements were: Myanmar (+55.21%); Vietnam (+34.89%); Laos (+33.97%); Cambodia (+31.93%); South Korea (+25.87%); China (+22.77%); Indonesia (+18.91%); the Philippines (+17.01%); Malaysia (+11.45%); Singapore (+10.38%); Hong Kong (+8.16%); Japan (+3.28%); and Taiwan (+1.91%).
Brunei was the only decline market in the region to show a decline (5.77%).
Africa showed an increase of 16.09% from 8,860 to 10,286 visits. The main market South Africa improved 9.53% from 3,370 to 3,691.
Americas posted a growth of 15.78% from 109,896 to 127,242 visits. Argentina reported an 88.72% increase from 3,359 to 6,339.
The United States recorded the highest visits at 82,335 up 14.49% from 71,915 followed by Canada (26,425; +9.51%) and Brazil (5,356; +4.24%).
Europe grew 10.93% from 644,511 to 714,962 visits. Markets that showed improvements were: Spain (+17.51%); Russia (+14.29%); Sweden (+14.10%); Italy (+13.67%); the United Kingdom (+13.30%); Denmark (+12.44%); France (+12.10%); Germany (+10.26%); the Netherlands (+9.99%); Switzerland (+9.74%); Belgium (+9.67%); Ireland (+7.71%); East Europe (+4.90%); Finland (+3.84%); and Austria (+1.86%).
Norway was the only market that recorded a slowdown (4.86%).
The Middle East increased 10.71% from 41,506 to 45,953 visits. Israel recorded the highest visits with 13,821, slightly improving by 1.44% from 13,625 visits.
Other main markets in the Middle East: the United Arab Emirates (5,946; -3.72%); Kuwait (3,315; -5.88%); Egypt (2,184; +43.68%); and Saudi Arabia (1,086; +44.41%).
South Asia represented an increase of 5.87% from 94,621 to 100,179 visits. India led supplying 75,874 visits up 4.90% from 72,328 followed by Bangladesh (7,337; -6.21%), Sri Lanka (5,729; +15.18%), Pakistan (5,213; +7.24%), and Nepal (3,206; +65.26%).