Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya (right), TAT deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific, and Tanes Petsuwan (left), deputy governor for marketing communications at the TAT, with Devanshi Deepak Kesaria, the 38,260,000th visitor this year.

Thailand has exceeded the record for foreign tourist arrivals set last year with the 38,260,000th visitor reaching the country on Friday.

The tourist from India, Devanshi Deepak Kesaria, also broke the record of 1.9 million arrivals from India, said Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Ms Kesaria, who flew from Mumbai with friends, will get two free round-trip tickets and accommodation for her next trip to Thailand.

She is visiting Thailand for the first time and plans to enjoy the beaches in Pattaya, Thai food and shopping.

The Indian market has grown significantly, projected at 22% growth in arrivals this year to 1.9 million, with 85 billion baht in tourism revenue, a 27% uptick.

Mr Chattan said the TAT plans to beef up this market by leading some 30 operators to participate in the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange 2020 in New Delhi next month. In July, it will conduct roadshows in four cities: Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata and Jaipur.

Marketing promotions with airlines will be offered throughout next year to induce Indian tourism, especially from secondary provinces such as Jaipur, Srinagar and Pune, Mr Chattan said.

The TAT projects foreign arrivals this year at 39.8 million, generating 1.96 trillion baht, up 4% in both volume and value from last year. Next year's arrivals figure is set at 40.8 million, up 2.5%, with 2.02 trillion baht in income, a 3% rise.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the waiver of visa-on-arrival fees and tourism stimulus plans, including more spots for tourists to claim value-added tax refunds, are measures to draw tourists next year.

The extension in operating hours at border checkpoints such as 24-hour operation at the Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam checkpoint between Thailand and Malaysia until June 16, 2020 will also facilitate tourists from Malaysia.

Mr Yuthasak has raised concerns over negative conditions that could obstruct growth next year, including the strong baht, trade wars between the US and China (as well as South Korea and Japan), Japan's consumption tax rise and Brexit.

He said next year's world events hosted by Japan and Dubai will attract tourists from around the globe and could reduce visits to Thailand. Additionally, visa facilitation offered by Taiwan, Vietnam and Georgia will induce more travel.

For domestic tourism, Mr Yuthasak expects Thais to make 167 million trips this year with 1.1 trillion baht in tourism receipts, up 1% and 3% respectively. Next year, the figure will be 172 million trips for 1.16 trillion baht, up 3% and 5% from 2019.

He said new infrastructure such as the Jira-Khon Kaen double-track railway, Bang Yai-Kanchanaburi motorway, Bang Pa-in-Nakhon Ratchasima highway and Betong airport will boost domestic travel.

The strong baht, new routes offered by low-cost airlines and a visa exemption for Thais to Asian countries should lure Thais to travel abroad, Mr Yuthasak said.


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