Even as Thailand is expected to fall short of its estimated foreign tourists target set for 2005 owing to devastating tsunami last December, the unrest and recent widespread flooding in southern Thailand have further reduced the number of foreign tourists and tourism revenue.
Tourist destinations in southern Thailand make up about 40 percent of the country’s total tourism revenue, said Charoen Wangananont, deputy vice president of the Thai Travel Agents Association.
According to the daily The Nation, the recent flooding, “which devastated parts of the south and inundated the resort island of Koh Samui, stranding tourists and causing considerable financial damage, adversely affected the tourism industry during its most profitable months.”
According to published reports, Charoen said that tourist arrivals this year would likely reach only 11 million, down from a the estimated 13 million, as the numbers of Western tourists fell sharply.
Next year’s outlook does not appear encouraging given the continuing unrest in three southern border provinces. The deteriorating economic conditions have also forced people to reduce their spending, Chareon reportedly said.
Recently, another media report stated that Thailand is likely end the year with 12 million tourist arrivals, roughly equal to 2004, but well off its 2005 target of 13.4 million visitors, according to Santichai Eauchongprasit, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.