Chinese tourists have comprised a significant proportion of Thailand’s overseas visitor base for several years now and the latest numbers continue to confirm the arrival of vast numbers of visitors from the north who flocked to the Kingdom to celebrate cultural events like Chinese New Year. Visitor arrivals to Thailand from China recorded a 95 percent increase to a total of 6.11 million in the first nine months of 2015. By the end of the year, this figure is expected to hit eight million. In 2014, Chinese visitors comprised 18.8 percent of all international tourist arrivals. However, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is now planning to open five new foreign offices to penetrate promising new markets abroad. According to a recent report in the Bangkok Post TAT revealed that plans are in the pipeline for new offices in Istanbul, Vladivostok, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires and one Canadian city that will be named at a later date. At present, there are 27 TAT foreign offices across the globe so the new locations will bring the total number to 32. By opening the new offices, the TAT hope to lure more high-end visitors to meet the Tourism and Sports Ministry targets. “We’ve worked very hard to reduce risk for Thai tourism, said Yuthasak Supasorn, the TAT governor. “Right now we depend mainly on China, and if the Chinese economy suffers the same fate as Russia, how will Thai tourism move on and achieve its target? This year, 28.8 million foreign tourists are expected to visit the Land of Smiles, generating revenue of THB1.4 trillion (US$38.9 billion). Next year, over 30 million international visitors are being targeted, generating an increased figure of THB1.54 trillion (US$42.8 billion). In order to deliver these targets, the TAT wants to draw new visitors to the Kingdom from a wider range of countries, while also encouraging tourists from traditional markets like Scandinavia, Germany and Britain to remain for longer periods of time. According to Khun Yuthasak, Argentina and South Africa offer significant potential to boost the nation’s tourism industry, but Limited flights have obstructed the introduction of visitors from such new destinations. “Thai Airways does not offer direct flights to any destinations in Argentina or South Africa, he said. “Airlines from the Middle East are filling that gap at the moment.
updates by Wayne Hue