More Tourists, Less Spending for 2019 New Year’s Eve Season

Foreign tourists relax on Pattaya Beach in a December 2014 file photo.
Foreign tourists relax on Pattaya Beach in a December 2014 file photo.

BANGKOK — More holidaymakers are headed to Thailand to bid farewell to 2019 than the same period last year, though they are expected to spend less per person, a senior tourism official said Thursday.

At least 546,000 tourists will arrive in Thailand for the New Year’s Eve season, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn, slightly up from 520,000 visitors in 2018. The government said it has several economic stimulus packages lined up to boost year-end spending among domestic tourists.

“We expect around 5 to 10 percent increase in the number of tourists visiting Thailand during this month’s high season,” Yuthasak said in an interview. “However, they are expected to spend less.”

He attributed the thrift to the surge of baht value. The currency rose by approximately 10 percent against the US Dollars in the past months, causing much pain to the export and tourism industries.

But the governor said tourists’ spending will likely improve, thanks to the New Year countdown festivals organized by the tourism authorities and their partners across the country.

“The country remains one of the world’s top destinations for countdown events,” Yuthasak said.

This year’s events will not only be held at major destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket as usual, but also include provinces like Korat, Udon Thani, and Chiang Rai as part of the government’s effort to spread tourism into less popular destinations, he said.

Although there are economic stimulus plans for domestic tourists like the “Travel Thailand with 100 Baht” scheme in which Thai citizens can snatch 100-baht deals for flights and hotel vouchers, Yuthasak said there’s no plans for similar schemes to be offered to foreign tourists.

“They are more interested in our natural wonders than prices,” he said.

On Wednesday, tourism minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan also said the surge of baht in recent months continues to hurt Thai tourism industry. He estimated that tourism will generate 3.04 trillion baht in revenue this year, slightly less than the target of 3.2 trillion baht.

Suthirawat Suwanawat, Suvarnabhumi Airport manager, said the airport expected fewer chartered flights than last year due to the ongoing maintenance works of the airport’s east runway, which cut the maximum number of flights per hour from 68 to 34 daily.

He said 200,000 foreign passengers will arrive at the capital each day from Dec. through next year’s Feb.