Tourism 'near to pre-Covid level'

Tourism 'near to pre-Covid level'

Tourists crowd Yaowarat Road, Bangkok, on Sept 17. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Tourists crowd Yaowarat Road, Bangkok, on Sept 17. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Tourism is bouncing back close to pre-Covid 19 levels, with at least 10 million international tourist arrivals targeted this year, said government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.

Five million foreign tourists have arrived in Thailand since the beginning of the year. So far this month, one million foreign visitors came to the kingdom, reinforcing the robust recovery of tourism, one of the country's top foreign exchange earners.

Mr Anucha said the government has set the target of welcoming at least 10 million foreign tourist arrivals this year.

Experts agreed the target was attainable as the high tourism season beginning next month marks the onset of the last quarter filled with year-end festivals which heighten the country's appeal to visitors.

The government is working with state and private sectors to ratchet up promotion campaigns to attract more high-spending tourists. To date, the tourism revenue is expected to top 1.73 trillion baht next year, of which 970 billion will be generated by international tourists and the rest by domestic travellers.

But if the industry's recovery exceeds the forecast, tourism revenue is estimated to reach 2.3 trillion baht next year, according to the spokesman. In the last quarter of this year, the number of foreign tourists is estimated at 1.5 million per month and the Tourism Authority of Thailand is teaming up with partner airlines to launch sales and marketing programmes during the high tourism season.

Mr Anucha added the tourism rebound has gained momentum since health restrictions were dropped from the entry rules earlier this year.

In Phuket, a strong tourism recovery is also evident. The province, one of the best-known tourist destinations in the country, has seen up to 84% of its domestic passenger traffic at its airport restored to the pre-Covid level.

Also, about 40% of its international arrivals have returned. Most came from the Middle East and India.

Visitors from China, who traditionally made up the biggest inbound tourist segment, are expected to make a comeback in January next year while the number of chartered flights from Russia is likely to rise from next month, according to Pichet Panapong, Phuket deputy governor.

The province will be hosting a series of cultural and festive events starting with the annual vegetarian festival from Sept 26-Oct 4. It will be the first time in the two years of the pandemic that the festival is held in its full format. The event will be conducted in a health-safe setting.

The province is also setting the stage for many sporting events and international meetings and conventions. The deputy governor said the hotel occupancy rate is forecast to average 80% for the rest of the year.

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