Thailand’s tourism industry is facing one of its biggest challenges in recent years as newly released data shows a significant decline in both the number of tourist arrivals and spending.
According to official data compiled by Bloomberg. the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand fell by 3.5 million in March, a decline of 0.7 percent from one year ago.
In addition to the dip in arrivals, foreign tourist spending also fell 1.3 percent to about $5.8 billion.
In a country where tourism accounts for a fifth of the economy, these figures are significant.
The fall in tourist arrivals has been fueled by a decline in Chinese tourists for two consecutive months, although arrivals from India had grown substantially, up 35 percent, Bloomberg reported.
“If the tourism arrivals and receipts continue to slide, it could be an added risk to the economy because the sector is one of the main drivers,” Bloomberg quoted Duangrat Prajaksilpthai, an economist at TMB Bank in Bangkok as saying.
“The numbers usually fluctuate and could bounce back so we have to wait and see.”
Earlier this week, the Thai government announced it would continue to waive the fee for visa arrival (VOA), in a bid to boost tourism.
By extending the scheme, tourists from China, India and 19 other nations and regions can enter Thailand free of charge, rather than paying the 2,000 baht fee for a visa when they arrive at the airport.
(Source: – Thai Visa)