Tour booking rise spurs hopes (Bangkok Post)
The Association of Thai Travel Agents expects tourism to start picking up in the second half after a revival in advance bookings from short-haul travellers. Tour operators are more hopeful after receiving advance bookings for the upcoming high season. Most booking have come from China, Japan, Iraq, Hong Kong and Singapore, said ATTA president Surapol Sritrakul. “International tourists have started booking package tours in Thailand. … Tourism will recover sometime next year. I think the short-haul market will rebound soon.” The number of tourists booking through travel agents will be the lowest in a decade despite the improvement. In the first half such bookings plunged by 38% to 867,267 tourists. China is one of Thailand’s key markets. Arrivals from the country are expected to increase once the issue of visa fees has been resolved. China was not initially included in the list of countries which would have their visa fees waived. However, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would resolve the issue.