Foreign visitors up 5.6%, led by Chinese

Chinese tourists gather their group at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Chinese are the largest nationality affecting the continuing rise in tourist arrivals. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Thailand welcomed 26.9 million foreign tourists from Jan 1 to Oct 11 and generated tourism revenue of 1.37 trillion baht, up 5.6% and 7.6% respectively compared with the same period last year.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said the Chinese remained at the top of international arrivals with 7.63 million.

During China’s national holiday or Golden Week on Oct 1-8 this year, 227,648 Chinese travelled to Thailand. International, one of largest travel companies in China, said more than 6.15 million Chinese travelled abroad during Golden Week. Top destinations are Thailand, Japan, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

Mrs Kobkarn has joined the tourism ministerial meeting in Myanmar this week. She said Asean Tourism Ministers agreed to propose Southeast Asia host the FIFA World Cup in 2034.

Kobkarn: Attended meeting in Myanmar

Moreover, tourism ministers from Asean and Japan have discussed further collaboration on sport as Japan is set to host the Olympic Games in 2020.

Tourism Department director-general Anan Wongbenjarat has mapped out strategic plans to improve the tourism sector, focusing on product and service development and enhancing tourist satisfaction.

Mr Anan said the department will continue to work on the supply side, mainly to develop products and services. The work is differentiated from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s responsibilities, which focus on demand-side strategies, targeted at 35 million visitors this year.

“In the short term, the department will improve tourism products and services through focusing on tourist demand. This means new initiatives and products will be based on what tourists want, which include fresh markets and community attractions,” he said.

For the mid-term, the department will set a tourism index to indicate tourist satisfaction and receive feedback from both local and international tourists.

In the long term, it will continue to improve supply-side factors to reinforce competitiveness with attractive local products and services.

Moreover, critical problems such as zero-dollar tours from China will be closely monitored and solved.

New technology will also be used to reach more tourists because modern travellers use social networks as travel manuals to search for information, plans, and to make bookings for trips.

Mr Anan said the department will also focus on human resource development and efficiency in a bid to enhance the country’s competitiveness.

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