Bumps ahead despite rosy tourism figures

THAILAND welcomed visitor arrivals of 28.5 million in January-September 2018, up by 8.7% over the same period of 2017, according to preliminary figures tabulated by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

But the trend during the remaining period of this year and next does not look good as the Chinese tourists coming to Thailand are expected to be on the decline as the value of the yuan has declined by around 10% against the US dollar and the baht, according to the stock market analysts.

Thailand’s tourism sector has now faced with some difficulties as the number of tourists from China, which accounted for around one third of the total tourist arrivals, has been markedly on the decline as their safety confidence has dropped since the boat accident in Phuket, resulting in a number of Chinese tourists dying a few months ago.

A recent incident in which a Chinese tourist was hit by an airport official at the Don Mueang Airport has made the matter worse.

Chinese tourists in Thailand

An analyst at Phatara Securities said the decline in the yuan value has now become a primary concern for the Thai tourism industry as this would prevent Chinese tourists from traveling abroad.

The cost of travel for the Chinese coming to Thailand has now risen by almost 10% because of the yuan depreciation during the past few months.

An analyst at Kasikorn Bank said the Chinese are also worrying about the trade war between the US and China as they are concerned about their future income.

The China-US trade war has also affected their stock markets quite substantially.

The drop in stock prices in the Chinese stock markets means lower income for the Chinese, making them thinking twice before they spend on overseas travel.

river dinner cruise

According to the tourism authorities, some key performance indicators of international arrivals in January-July 2018 were as follows:

East Asians generated 15.45 million visitors, or 68% of the total. China topped the list with 6,860,924 million arrivals. ASEAN countries generated over 5.62 million arrivals, with growth from the Philippines (+9.93%), Laos. (+9.31%), Cambodia (+8.43%), Vietnam (+7.83%), Indonesia (+7.67%), Malaysia (+6.80%), Singapore (+2.97%), except Myanmar (-0.36%) and Brunei (-11.04%).

Arrivals from Europe were up 6.37% to 4.05 million. Russia is the largest source market out of Europe, with arrivals of 900,712, up by 16.24%.

Arrivals from the Americas were up 2.99% to 948,872. The main market, USA, was up by 5.82% to 656,327. 

Arrivals from South Asia grew by 12.11% to 1,133,057. India topped the list with arrivals of 919,130, up 13.24%.

Arrivals from Oceania declined by 1.49% to 532,296 visitors, largely due to lower arrivals from both Australia (-1.82%) and New Zealand (+0.54%).

Arrivals from the Middle East declined by 4.56% to 432,054.

Arrivals from Africa grew by 7.48% to 106,394. The top performing market was South Africa, up by 14.56% to 54,651.

Tourism and Sport Minister Weerasak Kowsurat earlier urged agencies to sort out a series of problems before they can send a convincing message to the world that Thailand is still a safe destination for tourists.

He also urged authorities to speed up the completion of a safety standards manual to improve confidence.

“If we can manage all the issues we then can send a single, convincing message to the world, the Chinese, and local people and ask them to have confidence in us,” he said.


Top: Beautiful vista of Krabi. Photo: Reinhard Link (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

First in-text: A  filephoto shows Chinese tourists at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Photo: The Star Online (www.thestar.com)

Second in-text: A dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya river is a popular tourist activity. Photo:  eGuide Travel (CC-BY-2.0)

Below: Tourists having fun on a Phuket beach. Photo: Chee.hong (CC-BY-2.0)

By Kowit Sanandang

Phuket tourists having fun