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Thailand on course to reach this year’s visitor target

June 13, 2011

The upcoming election will have a positive impact on the tourism industry, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, Suraphon Svetasreni.

As long as there is no violence, the TAT expects that the country could achieve its international visitor target of 16.5 million this year.

According to figures from the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the total number of tourist arrivals during the first five months is about half the target.

Total arrivals saw a 24% increase from 6.6 million to 8.2 million over the same period last year.

About half (4.15 million) are tourists from East and Southeast Asia. The largest groups of tourists are from Malaysia (988,101), followed by China (682,576), Japan (491,321) and South Korea (439,670).

For European countries, Russia is the fastest growing market for Thailand. During the first five months, the number of visitors from that country jumped by almost 50% to 426,734. The major stop for Russian tourists is Pattaya. During the first months of this year, there were many charter flights from Russia to Pattaya as they escaped the harsh winter, Suraphon said.

The second biggest group of European visitors after the Russians are the British (392,692), followed by the Germans, French and Swiss.

North and South American tourists also increased by 17% to 445,898, while the numbers of arrivals from South Asia went up 28% to 471,006.

Large groups of tourists from India favour Thailand for hosting wedding ceremonies as well as for honeymoons.

The slowest growth was from the Middle East, said the TAT governor, adding that widespread political unrest in the region had reduced the volume of Arab tourists. The growth rate during the first five months compared to last year was about 10%, or 235,981 visitors.

Suraphon said the TAT expected that the country would pass the target for the seven months and that the TAT would also hold road shows abroad including in India and Australia to lure more tourists here.

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