Foreign tourists keep coming

Foreign tourists keep coming

International tourist arrivals to Thailand surged 12.5% to 14.2 million in the first five months of this year for tourism revenue of 709 billion baht, up 17.3% year-on-year, says the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

From January to May foreign tourist arrivals through Don Mueang airport grew 33%, Phuket airport increased 16.2%, Hat Yai airport rose 14.9%, Chiang Mai airport went up 4.18%, and Suvarnabhumi airport grew 3.04%.

Arrivals in May alone grew 5.7% to 2.43 million even as the tourism industry entered the low season. That gain was in line with global tourism growth of 4-5%.

Tourism revenue in May rose 10.3% to 115 billion baht.

For domestic tourism, revenue during the first quarter was 216 billion baht or 24% of the full-year target of 900 billion baht.

"Foreign tourists and their revenues are rising, but we believe it is very hard work to boost domestic tourism and encourage more Thais to travel in the country," said Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul. Domestic tourism figures are also collected very slowly from all the provinces, she said.

But Mrs Kobkarn remained confident the tourism industry would continue to grow the rest of the year, particularly in July, thanks to the many holidays in the month.

More tourism events and activities are scheduled to woo domestic Thai travellers, especially in secondary tourism provinces.

She said long holiday periods could help spur travel demand. During the latest long weekend of May 5-9, outbound tourism grew by 23% to 87,000 trips, while domestic trips numbered 340,000.

Yesterday, the ministry kicked off the Tong Teaw Suk Jai, Keela Thai Suk Kai campaign at Khlong Phasing Krung Kasem near Government House, running from June 3-24.

The event promotes 17 selected tourism routes meant to woo free independent travellers to experience Thai traditional sports. Many Otop products are also sold at the fair. The ministry expects to generate 30-50 million baht from this event.

Mrs Kobkarn said the event would promote community tourism, a key focus to distribute tourism income to local communities.

The ministry ordered the Department of Tourism to collect in-depth information on community-based tourism from 60 selected areas to evaluate a policy to distribute tourism income to local communities. The information includes tourism-related income, favourite tourist activities and length of stay.

"We only talked about promoting community tourism previously, but now we want to evaluate tourism activities and their impact on communities," she said.

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