Tourism boom sparks pre-Songkran deals

Tourism boom sparks pre-Songkran deals

Chinese visitors set record last month

Tourists and locals armed with colourful water guns splash about in Bangkok during Songkran festival. WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL
Tourists and locals armed with colourful water guns splash about in Bangkok during Songkran festival. WICHAN CHAROENKIATPAKUL

The Chinese New Year holiday fuelled foreign arrivals in Thailand in the first two months of 2018 as Chinese visitor numbers set a new record in February, the Tourism and Sports Ministry said Wednesday.

Foreign tourist arrivals showed strong growth of nearly 15% from January to February and drew over 384 billion baht in tourism revenue, said Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of the ministry.

International arrivals hit 7.11 million, up 15% from the corresponding period last year, while income from their spending jumped 17%.

In February, the number of tourist arrivals reached 3.56 million, a 19.3% increase year-on-year. Some 1.2 million tourists came from China including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Mr Pongpanu said these markets showed 51% growth from the same period in 2017.

Breaking down the top 10 countries from which tourists arrived in February, China led the pack followed by Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Japan, Laos, France, India, Germany and the US, he said.

Tourists generated total income of 195 billion baht last month, up 27% from the same period in 2017.

In the domestic market, local tourists made 12.5 million trips in the country in January, up 4.8% from January 2017.

Locals contributed tourism revenue of 91 billion baht, a 9% increase. The ministry is still collecting tourism data for February.

Thailand is expected to welcome 530,000 foreign visitors during Songkran, which falls April 12-16.

The ministry said their visits will contribute 9.37 billion baht in revenue.

For Thais, the festival will mean 3 million trips in the nation with over 10.4 billion baht spent, officials expect.

Usanee Sangsingkeo, acting president of Thai Airways International Plc (THAI), said the airline is offering a special package called Royal Orchid Holidays Songkran. It is available for families of two adults travelling with one child under 15 from April 1 to Oct 31.

The package includes free bed and breakfast accommodation and a roundtrip shuttle bus service from the airport to 100 participating hotels in seven key cities, including Koh Samui.

THAI also joined hands with THAI Smile and Nok Air to launch flights from Don Mueang to Mae Hong Son in a bid to promote secondary cities during Songkran from March 25. It will operate three flights a week.

Meanwhile, Airbnb will launch a "Songkran Airbnb Experiences" promotional deal from March 19 to April 15.

The company said it expects to see over 35,000 guest arrivals during the period, which would mark a 20% jump from the same period in 2017 as Songkran gains popularity across the world.

Airbnb is seeing more of its customers return to Bangkok each year to seek alternative adventures during Songkran, whether they are travelling alone or with groups of friends or family, said Sriram Vaidhya, head of trips for Southeast Asia and India.

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