Local Visa unit reins in foreign goal

Visa International (Thailand) expects marginal growth of only 5% of its card spending from foreigners visiting Thailand this year because the continuation of martial law is causing many countries to keep their travel warning here, said country manager Somboon Krobteeranon.

Visa, the international card payment system provider, recorded 3% growth on foreign credit-card spending in Thailand for the first quarter this year compared with last year. It booked a drop in spending for the segment in April and May amid the political tension before the coup.

But Mr Somboon said foreigner credit-card spending is improving as the political situation stabilises.

He said the company joined with authorities and around 15,000 Visa financial institution members across the world to clarify the situation in Thailand to restore foreigner confidence.

"Hotel bookings from overseas for the high season in the fourth quarter are still lower than usual, as normally bookings would reach 80%, but the situation is expected to gradually rebound. We need some time to make tourists better understand our situation," he said.

Foreigners' spending on tourism services via credit cards in Thailand is around 1.5 trillion baht, with spending using Visa cards around 12-15% of the total.

Visa targets a 10% increase in card spending this year, down from 15% last year, as consumer confidence remains fragile. Even with the economy expected to improve, consumers are waiting for a clearer economic signal.

The company expects domestic consumption will improve in the second half compared with the first six months, facilitating higher card spending.

For the first quarter this year, Visa announced spending growth via its credit-card of 9.2% year-on-year, beating industry growth of 6.3%.

Visa still has the largest market share at 72% of total card payments in Thailand.

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Writer: Somruedi Banchongduang
Position: Business Reporter