BANGKOK, 18 February 2014: Association of Thai Travel Agents’ member companies handled 293,980 international tourists at Suvarnabhumi Airport in January representing a decline of 24.40% from 388,888 visits during the same month last year.

ATTA released its data, late last week, based on fees member agencies pay to the airport to provide a meet-and-greet service for international clients. It is considered an accurate barometer for the tourism industry, but is limited to travel through Bangkok’s main aviation hub.

The decline of arrivals in January reflected the ongoing political instability in Thailand that is now entering its fifth month. The situation seriously escalated in December through to mid-January when the to government announced a state of emergency.

Travel agency business was growing steadily every month until December last year, a positive trend that started in 2011.

The association reported in January Russia led the supply markets with 97,827 visits, but it was a decrease of 15.84% from 116,235 during the same month last year.

China followed in second with 65,666 visits down a whopping 57.57% from 154,752.

That trend according to travel agents is the most worrisome as China has been fuelling the tourism boom in the country since 2012.

The Japan market declined 59.80%. The country ranked third with 15,900 visits compared to 39,552 during the same month last year. South Korea, in fourth place with 12,302 visits dropped 55.02% from 27,350. India supplied 8,890 visits, a decrease 58.43% from 21,386 visits.

The next five markets were: Germany (8,342; -38.64%); France (5,717; -30.54%); the United Kingdom (4,520; -54.67%); Taiwan (3,799; -70.00%); and the United States (3,495; -29.34%).

ATTA president, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, said the association has lost hope that it can realise an earlier forecast that would have grown its members’ business by 7% to 10% from last year’s 4.5 million. Now a 5% growth looks more realistic.

“Normally, the first quarter of the year is considered our high season, but with ongoing political disorder, the industry has been definitely hit and the situation cannot be controlled by tourism-related operators.”

A new China law on outbound tourism, enforced last October, also worsened the situation, but the main cause of losses was the political chaos and sporadic violence on the streets of the capital.

Tourism industry leaders have called on the government to revoke the 60-day state of emergency decree in Bangkok and surrounding provinces to improve tourist confidence.

Top 10 source markets for ATTA agents January at Suvarnabhumi Airport

news source :ttrweekly