Foreign tourists drop 6.6% last year

Foreign visitors  to Thailand last year declined  6.6% mainly due to political unrest in the first half.

Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavarangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports stated that 24.7 million tourists visited Thailand in the year 2014, which is a 6.6% decrease compared with 2013.

But they have  generated 1.13 trillion baht in revenue, 5.8% less than the previous year, she said.

Mrs Kobkarn attributed political crisis in Thailand during the first half of 2014 to the decline in tourist arrivals and revenues.

The first half of last year was plagued with  street protests which occasionally turned violent when anti-government demonstrators aimed  to topple the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

But the protest ended  when the military seized power  and declared nationwide martial law on  May 22, 2014. The military junta also imposed a 10 pm – 6 am curfew in Thailand for several weeks

Martial law, which remains in place today, has kept away potential foreign tourists from visiting Thailand.

Meanwhile the sharp  fall of the Russian ruble has deteriorated  tourism in popular destinations for Russian tourists such as Pattaya and Phuket.

According to the minister, the government’s goal of increasing “quality tourists,” defined as high-spending and culturally sensitive visitors, also failed this year, with numbers showing no increase in the average income of foreign tourists in 2014 as compared to 2013.

“It’s not much different to previous years,” she said.

In an effort to revitalize growth in the tourism industry – a major source of revenue for the Kingdom – Thailand’s tourism authorities have launched a campaign called “2015: Discover Thainess” to promote Thai “values” and the uniqueness of Thai culture.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has scheduled several activities to promote tourism which will incorporate the “Twelve Values” that Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha wanted all Thais to practice.