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European visitors to Thailand expected to fall due to economic downturn

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BANGKOK, Thailand – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has overhauled marketing plans to cope with a tourism slowdown and some flight reductions by Thai Airways International (THAI) in Europe.

BANGKOK, Thailand – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has overhauled marketing plans to cope with a tourism slowdown and some flight reductions by Thai Airways International (THAI) in Europe.

TAT is shifting its focus to attract more foreign tourists from other destinations, as the number of travelers from Europe may see a drop due to Thai Airways International cutting flights from those markets. 

The Bangkok Post quoted Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, executive director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, who said, “The European tourist market was slowing dramatically due to the continent’s economic downturn.”

The European slowdown has also hurt the national flag carrier THAI, which began cutting some loss-making routes from Europe.

In the first five months, European tourist arrivals fell by 13.3% year-on-year to 2.59 million, and the fall is expected to continue for the rest of the year.

Tourist arrivals from Scandinavian countries are expected to fall further having already plunged 6% to 301,703 in the first five months of this year.

In addition, flight cancellations by THAI will affect inbound tourism from Europe to Thailand. The airline has already cancelled three routes; Madrid, Moscow and Oslo, in the first quarter and will cut Rome in October.

The NTO is confident however that Thailand will reach its target of 29m visitor arrivals this year and projects arrivals growing 7.5% annually to double to 60m in 10 years according to next year’s marketing plan.

In an earlier statement Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor, TAT said, “The 2016 plan marks the opening of a new chapter for Thai tourism. It is based on the fact that there is more than adequate accessibility to Thailand via excellent air, road and sea connections, as well as smooth facilitation that allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival access for citizens from 68 countries and territories. As Thailand has the natural geographical advantage of being located right in the heart of the Asia-Pacific and ASEAN regions, we can be sure of strong arrival figures for years to come, assuming that the external and internal operating environment remains stable. So, we can confidently say that the era of promoting ‘quantity’ is over. The era of promoting ‘quality’ has begun.”

It would appear however that quantity is still high on the agenda. Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, saying the shift in focus away from Europe, “Would bring at least 800,000 tourists from October 2015 to September 2016, up from forecasts of 635,000,” she said.