Tourist arrivals jump 38% in July

Tourist arrivals jump 38% in July

Foreign tourists dressed in rented Thai traditional costumes take a photo at the Temple of Dawn in Bangkok on Saturday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Foreign tourists dressed in rented Thai traditional costumes take a photo at the Temple of Dawn in Bangkok on Saturday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

More than 2.6 million foreign visitors arrived in Thailand in July, a 38% year-on-year jump that pushed up total tourist visits this year by more than 30% over conflict-plagued 2014.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said Thailand welcomed 2,641,998 foreign tourists in July, with Chinese and Malaysian visitors topping the nationality list.

Foreign arrivals via international airports in July accounted for about 80% of total visitors, or 2.16 million people, up 49.37% year-on-year. Don Mueang airport saw the largest growth at 81.3%, followed by Chiang Mai, Suvarnabhumi and Phuket airports at 69.6%, 48.2% and 24.4% respectively.

Ms Kobkarn said from October 2014, the first month of the 2015 fiscal year, until the end of July, Thailand recorded 1.2 trillion baht in tourism revenue, up 23.1% from the previous fiscal year, which was dominated by street protests in Bangkok and then the military coup.

Based on statistics compiled from the Department of Tourism, Thailand saw around 17.4 million visitors in the first seven months of 2015, up 30.1% from the same period in 2014.

Numbers from last year's first half were depressed by violent street protests lasting until May when the military took over and imposed martial law, setting off an avalanche of travel warnings.

Ms Kobkarn said the tourism sector has since improved and the ministry expected to achieve its target of 28.8 million visitors with 2.2 trillion baht of tourism revenue in this year.

The ministry set a target of 2.5 trillion baht of revenue for 2017.

Vichit Prakorbkosol, honorary president of the Thai-Chinese Tourism Association, earlier said the government should take steps to upgrade the Chinese tourism market, as mainlanders have greater purchasing power.

Chinese arrivals to Thailand have increased each month this year, and the association expects around 650,000 Chinese visitors in October for their long national day holiday Oct 1-7.

The association said it expects Thailand will receive 7-7.5 million Chinese visitors in 2015 who will generate 130-150 billion baht in tourism revenue.

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