Country celebrates 10 million tourist arrivals

Country celebrates 10 million tourist arrivals

Special events staged at seven airports as revival of international travel gains momentum

A passenger waves to officials waiting to welcome tourists at Phuket airport on Saturday as part of the “Amazing Thailand 10 Million Celebrations” events staged at several ports of entry. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
A passenger waves to officials waiting to welcome tourists at Phuket airport on Saturday as part of the “Amazing Thailand 10 Million Celebrations” events staged at several ports of entry. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

Celebrations to welcome foreign visitors took place at seven airports and two immigration checkpoints on Saturday as the country recorded 10 million foreign tourist arrivals for the year.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry organised the “Amazing Thailand 10 Million Celebrations” event to highlight the steady revival of the economically vital industry after a Covid-induced downturn that lasted more than two years.

Local dignitaries and tourism business leaders turned out to form welcoming parties at all seven international airports — Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, U-Tapao Rayong-Pataya, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi and Samui — and at the Sadao and Nong Khai border checkpoints.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, meanwhile, was at Suvarnabhumi airport, where two passengers from Saudi Arabian Airlines flight SV 846 from Riyadh, arriving at 3pm, were singled out for 200,000 baht in prizes to mark the 10-million milestone.

“The sky is open,” Gen Prayut said in a speech.

“We would like to build confidence that Thailand is still one of the (top) tourist destinations of people around the world.”

In the East, an Azur Air charter flight from Moscow carrying 336 passengers landed at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya international airport at 11.38am. It was followed 14 minutes later by another Azur Air charter from Novosibirsk, Russia.

Chon Buri governor Thawatchai Srithong, Rayong deputy governor Pirun Hemarak and senior officials from the airport and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) joined tourism business executives to welcome the Russian tourists and present them with souvenirs.

In Phuket, governor Narong Woonciew led representatives from the public and private sectors to welcome 722 foreign visitors from the United Kingdom, India and South Korea.

Foreign visitors are warmly received at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya international airport. (Photo: Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

Thailand welcomed 40 million foreign tourists, who generated some 2 trillion baht in revenue for the country, in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

This year, most of the arrivals to the country have been in the second half as Covid restrictions were gradually loosened. The 10 million visitors who had arrived as of Saturday are estimated to have spent some 500 billion baht, or an average of 50,000 baht per person per trip.

The TAT expects arrivals from Russia will reach 311,000 this year and generate 24 billion baht. It expects total international arrivals to reach around 20 million in 2023.

So far this year, the TAT says 857,930 tourists from India have visited the country with an average stay of 7.43 nights per person and average spending of 40,000 baht.

It has recorded 385,421 visitors from the United Kingdom with an average stay of 16-18 nights and average spending of 49,000 baht per trip.

Despite the upbeat mood this month, the TAT has expressed some caution regarding the tourism outlook for next year.

Last month, it said a slowdown was possible in the second quarter of next year, after the current high season, as there will be no more pent-up flight demand, which has fuelled the market this year.

Phuket governor Narong Woonciew, right, greets a traveller arriving at Phuket airport. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

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