Tourism Ministry to seek cabinet nod for new stimulus deal
The Tourism and Sports Ministry plans to seek economic cabinet approval for a new tourism stimulus package including multiple-entry visas for Chinese tourists, reduced landing fees for airlines and increased airport slot times.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said such measures would help maintain positive momentum into a challenging year in 2020.
Multiple-entry visas should increase tourism from short-haul destinations in the mainland, Mr Phiphat said. This measure should be implemented as soon as possible to welcome Chinese visitors, especially during Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 25.
This year, Mr Phiphat expects the number of tourist arrivals to reach 40.2 million, outpacing the goal of 39.8 million, but tourism revenue may fall short of the target of 2.04 trillion baht because of the global economic slowdown and solid baht.
The ministry reported 32.5 million tourist arrivals during the first 10 months of 2019, up 4.3% year-on-year, generating 1.58 trillion baht, up 4%.
Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said local authorities have discussed requests from the mainland such as increasing slot times for airlines, reducing landing fees and providing better safety measures.
He said the visa-on-arrival fee exemption and multiple-entry visas are effective measures to encourage arrivals, but they must be approved by the government.
Mr Chattan said many countries use a visa policy or other travel facilitation to attract visitors, meaning Thailand must match or better these incentives.
Chinese arrivals in the first 10 months stood at 9.34 million, up 3.6% year-on-year, generating 467 billion baht in tourism income, up 5.5%.
The number of Chinese tourists this year should reach the target of 11 million, generating 730 billion baht, Mr Chattan said.
The agency is confident that Thailand will receive 12 million Chinese arrivals next year, regardless of baht appreciation, which affects tourist spending.
To encourage travellers to spend more and stay longer, Mr Chattan said TAT offices in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Kunming and Shanghai are working with local partners like Spring Airlines, Alibaba and Ctrip to increase visitors to Thailand.
The target groups are Chinese millennials and first-time workers, who account for about half of the overall Chinese population. These groups are able to travel easily and freely and use smartphones for planning trips.
Mr Chattan said independent tourists contribute some 60% of Chinese visitors, while the balance are those travelling in groups.