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TAT preparing to lure back tourists after floods

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is preparing measures to rejuvenate the tourism industry once the flooding subsides while reaffirming its visitor-arrival forecast of more than 15 million this year.

TAT plans to invite more than 130 front-line operators from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Australia next month to visit Bangkok and other centres including Pattaya as well as the Royal Flora event in Chiang Mai to experience the latest tourism situation after the flooding.

Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, director of TAT’s office in Singapore, said the plan was part of short-term measures the agency expects to initiate to help revive the tourism industry after it was hit by the worst deluge in a decade.

More than 315 Thais have been killed over the three months since the flood began and destroyed cities in the North, and now the capital is at risk of going under water.

The Singaporean government on Wednesday issued a travel advisory for its citizens to avoid travelling to Bangkok because of the heavy flooding in the outskirts.

Hotel operators in Bangkok and other key destinations said they had received a flood of cancellations. Many meetings and conferences booked earlier have also been postponed.

Phanom Kaributra, TAT’s executive director for Asean, South Asia and the South Pacific, said the authority would also invite tourism volunteers to help rebuild the travel industry.

However, he could not mention a suitable time for that, as the floods are still raging.

“Most major tourist attractions remain operating as usual, but we worry about Bangkok now that there’s a danger of flooding,” he said.

Kanokkittika said a special trip planned for key players from Asean, India and Australia next month would assist in restoring post-flood tourism. Foreigners still want to travel to the Kingdom despite the unfortunate circumstances, she said.

The 40 Thai operators attending ITB Asia in Singapore this week are reporting a positive response from international markets for this quarter as well as into next year.

TAT in Singapore is working with airlines and tour operators to lure more visitors to unaffected leisure destinations such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Krabi and Samui. It is approaching first-time visitors from Singapore and young tourists through online and new media.

“We are also working with the expatriates’ association in Singapore to encourage them to spend their vacations in Thailand,” Kanokkittika added.

More than 75,000 expatriates in Singapore travel to Thailand each year.

According to TAT statistics, 579,105 Singaporeans visited Thailand last year, up by 2.7 per cent from 2009, generating Bt16 billion in revenue, an increase of 8.5 per cent.

Thailand received 344,001 tourists from Singapore during the first six months of this year and expects to reach the target of 598,215 for this year, for growth of 3 per cent.

“The 28 flights a week including the new direct route between Singapore and Koh Samui will draw in high-end tourists more easily,” Kanokkittika said.

Singapore has dropped out of the top 10 source markets for Thailand this year as its holidaymakers have shifted to emerging destinations such as South Korea and China.

While TAT’s global arrival target for this year remains at more than 15 million, it could reach 19 million if no serious issue intervenes.

Source: The Nation

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