BANGKOK, 18 January 2017: Association of Thai Travel Agents’ member companies handled 5,377,843 travellers, January to December, last year, at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports representing a 3.04% increase from 5,219,066 in 2015.
ATTA released its data, last week, based on fees member agencies pay to the two airports to provide a meet-and-greet service for international clients, but limited to travel through Bangkok.
The association president, Charoen Wangananont, said ASEAN and Asia continue to be major suppliers for Thailand’s inbound tour companies.
The slowdown was mainly attributed to the government’s campaign to end zero-dollar tours. A powerful sub-group of around 300 ATTA agents handle a big proportion of all zero-dollar tours to Thailand.
However, independent tourism observers in Thailand point out that the description “zero-dollar” says it all. There are no long-term financial benefits for the country’s tourism from a business that evades tax and pockets huge commissions at the expense of travel and attraction suppliers restaurants and communities.
“The situation will recover this year as tour operators and travellers come to terns and understand the new regulations,” the president said.
“To boost business for our members, we should target potential markets in the Middle East and Asia such as Iran and South Korea.”
China led the field with an improvement of 7.07% from 3,033,950 visits to 3,248,589 visits in 2016.
Despite an 11.42% decline, Russia ranked second with 235,636 visits compared to 266,017 visits in 2015.
The next top five markets were: Vietnam (224,197; +20.05%); India (199,162; +1.85%); and South Korea (167,992; +5.46%).
December highlights: SWB
In December, there were 252,337 foreign tourists who travelled with association members at Suvarnabhumi Airport (SWB), down 22.72% from 326,536 visits during the same month in 2015.
China was the top source of travel agency bookings in December with 98,016 visits, decreasing 39.68% from 162,496 visits.
Russia followed in second place with 31,287 visits up 11.39% from 28,088 visits during the same month in 2015.
South Korea ranked third with 17,111 visits increasing 4.88% from 16,315 visits.
India was fourth with 14,082 visits declining 3.92% from 14,657 visits, while Japan in fifth place, with 8,947 visits, improved 0.27% from 8,923 visits.
The next top five markets in December were: the United Kingdom (8,694; +6.24%); Germany (6,402; +13.71%); Vietnam (4,383; -24.51%); the United States (3,514; +46.05%); and Taiwan (2,838; -5.96%).
The association also reported 84,884 tourists used member companies at Don Mueang Airport (DMK) in December last year, decreasing 32.10% from 125,021 over the same month in 2015.
China also topped arrivals at the second gateway recording 65,031 visits down 39.91% from 108,219 visits.
Indonesia was second with 4,439 visits, up 27.71% from 4,118 visits over the same month in 2015.
Vietnam ranked third recording 4,439 visits, an increase of 32.07% from 3,361 visits.
Malaysia in fourth place, with 3,211 visits, declined 13.00% from 3,691, while India in fifth place, with 2,700 visits, decreased 74.19% from 1,550 visits.