Tourism council targets 10 million foreign arrivals in second half of year
The Thailand Tourism Council (TCT) has vowed to attract at least 10 million foreign tourists to the country in the second half of this year, and is pleading with all government agencies to provide more subsidised, soft loans, and lenient measures to all entrepreneurs, particularly local small and medium-sized enterprises.
Speaking at the press conference for the Thailand Tourism Confidence Index 2022, TCT president Chamnan Srisawat said that the council has already set a target of 12-16 million inbound tourists for this year and two million tourists have already arrived in the first half of the year. This figure target represents 30-40 per cent of all international tourists who visited Thailand prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is critical for all Thai tourism businesses to recover and survive.
According to the report, the tourism confidence index increased in the first six months of 2022 due to the positive sentiment about the sector’s recovery as a result of government measures, such as opening the country's borders, relaxing some regulations, and lifting the Thailand Pass requirement to make it easier for tourists to visit the kingdom.
In particular, the confidence index of Thailand's tourism industry rose to 53 points in the second quarter. In Q3, it is expected to reach 62 points. According to the researchers, the number is gradually increasing because many entrepreneurs are concerned about rising energy prices and high inflation, which raises their costs.
Overall, the report predicted that tourism in Thailand will generate more than 671 billion baht this year.
Chanchai insisted that the private sector of all sizes needed some support from various government agencies in order to maintain the country's competitiveness and remain the favourite destination of tourists. For example, companies require soft loan measures from the Ministry of Finance to provide liquidity for their operations, land and building tax exemptions from the Revenue Department, digital transformation assistance from the Digital Economy Ministry, and labour training sessions from the Labour Ministry.
"We appreciate everything the government has done to help the tourism industry and businesses begin to recover," but winning this tourism war game while maintaining supply-side competitiveness will require special synergy. There is still work to be done, and those tasks cannot be completed by a single party," Charnchai explained.
He also forecast that as countries around the world gradually open their borders, competition in the tourism industry would be fierce. Each country will make an effort to lure tourists because they see tourism as a quick-win strategy for generating income and reviving their economies.
According to Vichit Prakobgosol, TCT's vice president of marketing, tourism is one of the simplest ways to quickly distribute income to people. The most pressing issue right now is determining how to increase the number of inbound visitors.
He proposed that the government meet with travel agencies and airline operators to discuss joint promotions, such as hard sales and chartered flights, as well as any other measures that would make it easier for tourists to visit the country and thus increase the likelihood of more tourists coming to Thailand.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, stated that the country's hotels and accommodation facilities have yet to fully recover. As a result, they continue to require government assistance, particularly with regard to the exemption of land and building taxes.
Meanwhile, she supported the government's efforts to promote Thailand's soft power, which includes food, fashion, film, fighting (Thai traditional boxing), and festivals. All of these forms of soft power will add value to Thailand's rich culture and entice foreigners to visit the country.
Somchai Jearanaisilp, TCT vice president and president of the Wellness Tourism Committee, added that medical and wellness tourism could be another factor in helping Thailand's tourism industry grow. The government must prioritise Thailand Medical Hub, particularly the training of skilled personnel with more specific expertise, continue to promote various researches so that Thailand can create Thai-style medical products that are distinctive and different, support investment through the Board of Investment (BOI), and issue a policy promoting a 10-year long-stay visa for foreigners.
Charnchai concluded that the country is currently engaged in a "tourism war game". While Thailand's government policies and measures are ready to welcome tourists, many private operators and related businesses, particularly owners of small hotels or local car rentals, remain reluctant to provide their services. As a result, greater collaboration between the government sector, the council, and related businesses is required.