Thailand, the 1st of October 2010: Despite the political and security concerns still debatably present in the Thai capital, it seems both the governments-run TAT and the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) agree that this years high season (October-May) will be significantly better than 2009 in terms of foreign visitors.
President of the ATTA, Suraphol Sritrakul, revealed that bookings for this years high season had already seen a 5% increase on 2009, while reservations are up 20-30% higher than the same period last year. “Foreign tourists are gradually coming back, particularly from Asian countries,” he said yesterday.
In worrying signs for traditional ‘northern’ tourism hotspots of Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya and Gulf Islands, the ATTA confirmed that almost 100% of bookings and reservations were for the southern resorts of Koh Samui, Krabi and Phuket.
Despite the ATTA summation that European and American travellers will be significantly down on last year, the TAT has come forward to suggest that Thailand’s position, as a value-for-money destination will still see the Kingdom appeal to global travellers.
The TAT had previously forecast 4.28 million European tourist arrivals for 2010, bringing in a staggering Bt233 billion baht, up 10.6% on 2009 on arrivals and 4.1% on revenue. However, the ATTA maintain that EU visitors are likely to decrease this year, with more Asian and Middle Eastern travellers helping to boost visitor numbers.
TAT officials maintain Thailand low hotel prices, package tours and value-for-money purchases, should continue to attract US and EU visitors despite depreciation in their respective currencies, although admitting that certain ‘price wars’ in some markets was affecting competition.
Russian travel agents, particularly in the seaside resorts of Pattaya and Rayong, have take to renting hotel rooms for extended periods (up to a year) before re-renting them at significantly lower prices. This in turn has forced local competitors to lower their respective prices, with the TAT voicing that this strategy was damaging Thailand’s image and regional pricing structures.
“We can’t force them to stop doing this. The only thing we can do is ask them to show some concern for the industry as this will create long-term damage,” a TAT spokesperson stated.