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Thailand projects 10.7 million visitors for 2002

Travel News Asia 27 December 2002

Thailand is projecting total visitor arrivals of 10.7 million in 2002, a growth of 6% over 2001, well above the targeted growth of 4%.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Mrs Juthamas Siriwan said the projection was based on total arrivals of 8.75 million in January-October 2002, an increase of 7.22% over the same period of 2001. Strong growth has continued in both November and December, final figures for both those months have not yet been finalised.

In 2001, we had conservatively forecast a growth of 4% for 2002, which would have given us arrivals of 10.5 million for the whole year. However, the real growth has been higher than forecast, and we can safely project to close 2002 with about 10.7 million arrivals, she said.

The total arrivals target for 2003 is 11.13 million, which will be an approximate six per cent increase over 2002. Earnings are projected at 360,600 million Baht, up 11.5% over 2002. Domestic visitors in 2002 are projected at 63.07 million, up 2.5%, with earnings of 323,000 million Baht, up an estimated 4.87%. On each of the markets, Mrs Juthamas offered the following performance analysis, based on the figures tabulated so far:

East Asia: In Jan-Oct 2002, the rate of growth was 8.31% with total arrivals of 5.35 million. Arrivals from Malaysia, China and Korea were up strongly though arrivals from Japan and Taiwan declined due to internal economic problems. Overall growth from the region is expected to remain strong, especially to popular Thai beach resorts.

Europe: The Jan-Oct period saw a good growth rate of 5.40% to190,000. Countries that reported higher than 4% growth were the UK, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Russia, Spain, Austria and Eastern Europe. Markets that are still cause of concern are Germany and Norway, due to poor economic conditions. Travel advisories issued in some European countries have affected arrivals to some degree. 

While the market is expected to grow in 2003, much will depend on local economic conditions, the impact of a potential conflict in Iraq and any advisories that may be issued in future if problems related to terrorism occur in Asia.

The Americas: Arrivals in Jan-Oct 2002 saw a small increase of 2.5% to 560,510. The main market, the US, increased by 1.55% to 403,381, a slow growth attributed to the lingering effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The first half of 2002 saw a decline in US arrivals but recovered in the third quarter as economic conditions improved and the psychological impact of the attacks abated. Meanwhile, arrivals from both Brazil and Canada have moved back strongly into positive growth. Thailands image of neutrality and a peaceful place with good value for money remains a powerful magnet that continues to attract tourists.

South Asia: Arrivals in Jan-Oct 2002 grew by a strong 16.06% to 322,428 with all markets doing well, except Pakistan which has been affected by domestic political issues and the conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan. India, however, has become a primary market with arrivals up by 24.09% to 210,184, making it the regions fastest growing market. Thailand is receiving increasing attention in the Indian market, especially among tour groups which have experienced significant growth. Many other groups are also coming for health and medical check-ups. It is expected that this market will remain strong and show growth until early 2003.

Oceania: Arrivals in Jan-Oct 2002 dropped by 2.14% to 350,000 visitors. Arrivals have been dropping since the second quarter of 2000 due to the relocation of the Qantas/British Airways aviation hub from Thailand to Singapore. This was compounded by the Bali attacks in October 2002 and the subsequent travel advisories that were issued about travel to southeast Asia. Even though the second largest market, New Zealand, has risen, total arrivals from the region are expected to continue to show a decline.

Middle East: Arrivals in Jan-Oct 2002 grew by a strong 15.66% to 236,532 with all markets showing a positive growth, overcoming the impact of the 9/11 attacks in the US as well as the conflict in Afghanistan. Main markets like Israel and secondary markets like the UAE and Kuwait have continued to do well. Some of this growth can be attributed to the indirect impact of immigration controls for citizens of Arab countries imposed by certain countries in Europe, America and Asia. Thailand has maintained a strict neutrality and has no problems with the Islamic world, which along with its value for money has made it very attractive to visitors from Arab countries. From Israel, even though there are problems related to the conflict in Palestine, the market began declining in the second quarter of 2002 due to the growing fears of a war in Iraq. That will certainly affect flow of visitor arrivals from this region, at least into early 2003.

Africa: Arrivals in Jan-Oct 2002 declined by 0.31% to 74,913. South Africa, which is a major market, has slowed significantly with a 7.51% decline to 31,162 That is a major change from the boom in arrivals that Thailand had been experiencing all the way until the end of 2001. Arrivals from Africa are expected to decline at least until 2003.

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