Despite a few setbacks last year, Thailand faces a bumper tourism year in 2016, with record numbers of international visitors expected to visit the country’s many attractions.
Close to 30 million foreign visitors visited Thailand in 2015 and the country remains a firm favourite with tourists, despite negative publicity arising from a bomb attack at a shrine in central Bangkok and a highly publicised trial following the murder of two British backpackers. The bombing is believed to have been carried out by a Turkish Islamist terror group. Convictions have been secured in the backpacker murder case.
After the bombing, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said: “They want to destroy our economy, our tourism.”
If so, they have not succeeded. Tourism accounts for about 10% of Thailand’s GDP and it’s doing well.
Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul estimates that 2 million people are likely to visit Thailand in 2016, which would be 7% above the 29.88 million who visited in 2015.
The encouraging news on tourism front comes as Thai Airways International (THAI) announces that it expects to turn a profit this month after losing money for three consecutive years.
The airline’s president, Charamporn Jotikasthira, attributed the turnaround to stronger sales backed by cost cutting.
An article in the Bangkok Post quoted Charamporn forecasting that passenger load factors are on track to reach at least 80%, which would be seven points above the level where they have hovered for a long time.
Written by Peter Needham