Tourism Council predicts 40.3m arrivals for 2019
The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) predicts international arrivals to Thailand will increase to 40.3 million in 2019, mainly because of lowered visa barriers.
TCT president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn said the growth rate for foreign arrivals will be 5.5% next year, based on a projection of 38.5 million arrivals this year.
The council also projects tourism receipts from international markets will rise from an estimated 2 trillion baht this year to 2.29 trillion next year.
Major factors driving the growth include the exemption of visa-on-arrival (VOA) fees that were endorsed on Nov 15 this year, running until Jan 13, 2019.
Other visa initiatives being planned by the private sector and the government are multiple-entry visas and extending the VOA fee exemption until April, Mr Chairat said.
Other conditions include the increase of budget airlines and the expectation of more political stability in the country. Thailand is scheduled to hold a general election on Feb 24, 2019.
Despite a favourable environment, Mr Chairat said Thai tourism is still reliant on external factors, notably global economic tensions and the trade row between the US and China.
The council also forecasts foreign arrivals next year will be from India, Vietnam, Russia and Taiwan.
Although China will remain the biggest source of tourism, the growth rate from the mainland may not be as strong as in past years.
He said Thailand needs to improve land transport, especially in second-tier provinces in order to facilitate tourists.
Moreover, there should be plans to enhance tourism standards and services, said Mr Chairat.
Meanwhile, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said competition in the global tourism market is robust and many other countries have been working to use tourism to drive secondary markets.
The Thai tourism industry is expected to face some difficulty in 2019 from the trade war between the US and China, increasing interest rates, and soaring fuel jet prices, he said. These factors would force tourists to cut their travel plans and lower consumption, especially on luxury items.
For local tourism, Mr Yuthasak expects Thais will make 179 million trips in 2019, up from an estimated 167 million trips this year.
Tourism revenue from domestic markets will increase from 1 trillion baht this year to 1.18 trillion in 2019, up about 10% year-on-year, he said.
Of the number, TAT expects local tourists to make 20.1 million trips to northern provinces, 28 million trips to the Northeast, 90 million trips to central provinces, 17.7 million trips to the East, and 22.8 million trips to the South.
Mr Yuthasak said the TAT will continue promoting domestic tourism through various campaigns, including the "Go for More" campaign that was launched yesterday.
Under this campaign, each region will highlight their attractions to attract visitors to their provinces.