Thai tourism hit by mall shooting and Israel war

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): Foreign tourism arrivals to Thailand are dropping this month as the war in Israel and the Bangkok mall shooting impact visitor confidence.

Arrivals last week (Oct 2-8) fell to 497,966, down 9.86% from the previous week, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry. The decline was attributed to Chinese tourists returning home to avoid travel congestion at the end of Golden Week holidays and safety fears after the Siam Paragon shooting killed one Chinese tourist.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects another big dip next week, projecting just 480,000 arrivals.

The top five contributors of foreign tourists last week were Malaysia, China, India, South Korea, and Laos.

However, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is betting on the visa waiver for Chinese visitors to boost arrivals to 700,000 per month in November and December.

Thai tourism operators have urged the government to extend the visa exemption to Indian tourists, saying this will help the TAT reach its goal of 25-30 million foreign tourists and 1.6 trillion baht in revenue this year.

The visa exemption should also lift Chinese arrivals over the New Year and Chinese New Year holidays, given that China was the largest foreign market for Thai tourism before the Covid-19 pandemic, with over 11 million visitors in 2019.

The TAT is still aiming for at least 4 million Chinese tourists in 2023 despite last week’s deadly shooting at Bangkok’s Siam Paragon mall, which made waves on Chinese social media.

Bookings by Chinese MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) travellers have not been affected but there have been cancellations in the group and individual traveller segment, it said.

The TAT has responded by speeding up the "Restoring Thailand's Safety Image" campaign.

Its medium and long-term plans focus on the Loy Krathong Festival in November and the "Vijit Chao Phraya" light & sound show on the Chao Phraya River from Dec 1 to 31.

The TAT said it will evaluate feedback from the visa-free scheme for Chinese arrivals before deciding on whether to extend it to countries like India in time for New Year.

As for the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the TAT expects it will create hesitancy among Israeli travellers, especially families concerned about safety issues.

Israeli travellers are high-spending tourists averaging 70,000 baht per trip, but only 200,000 are expected to travel to Thailand this year.

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Thailand , tourism , mall , shooting , Israel , war


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