Thailand sees first signs of tourism recovery

Thailand experienced its first monthly tourist arrivals growth of the year in October, leading to hopes of an upturn in the country’s tourism fortunes.

According to the latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), a total of 2.18 million overseas tourists visited the country last month, 6.1% more than in October 2013.  This marks the first month of growth in a year that has seen the country hit with political protests, a military coup, nationwide curfew and martial law.

Thawatchai Arunyik (pictured centre)launched the visa fee waiver scheme for Chinese citizens in August
Thawatchai Arunyik (pictured centre)launched the visa fee waiver scheme for Chinese citizens in August

And October’s growth was primarily driven by a 67% jump in arrivals from mainland China. The monthly total of 501,043 visitors from China represented 23% of the total number of monthly visitors to Thailand.

And TAT governor, Thawatchai Arunyik, attributed the strong performance to a recent decision to scrap the visa fee for citizens of China and Taiwan.

“We are pleased that the tactical visa fee waiver strategy produced results. It is the first positive upturn in arrivals this year, and we are optimistic that the growth will continue in both November and December,” he said.

After China, Malaysia was the second biggest source market to Thailand, with 262,803 arrivals, up 11.1% year-on-year, while other ASEAN countries including Singapore (+4.9%), Myanmar (+48.7%), Cambodia (+16.4%) and the Philippines (+4.6%) also climbed.

Arrivals from Israel surged 78.7% to 14,475, due to a long holiday in the country, while visitation from India increased 9.1% to 87,990. The TAT didn’t provide any data for European, Australian or North American visitor numbers.

For the first 10 months of the year, Thailand has now welcomed 19.74m international visitors, and is on track to meet its full-year target of 25.5m arrivals. This would mark a decline of 4.6% compared to 2013, but an increase of 14.1% from 2012.

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