Thai tourism resilient
Recent political unrest, rebellious attacks and the threat of terrorism have not stopped the constant influx of international visitors looking to holiday in Thailand’s tourist hot spots. Tourism Authority Thailand (TAT) told travelbulletin “life in the capital city and across the country still continues as normal” with business as usual across tourist sites, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. Thailand finished 2015 with a record 29.8 million international visitors, up 20% from the 24 million in 2014. The year also saw tourism revenue of 2.21 trillion baht generated and the average length of stay jump from 10 to 12 days. “This implies that people who travel to Thailand tend to stay longer, spend and explore more,” said a spokesperson for TAT. TAT reveals alerts put out for tourists still had some affect, seen mainly in tourists avoiding certain areas deemed risky by authorities. They said Australians were even less likely than other nations to be deterred by these warnings. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officially advises Aussie tourists to exercise a “high degree of caution” throughout the kingdom, with a recent warning highlighting the “ongoing transmission” of Zika virus, while a “do not travel” alert is in place for the country’s southern tip due to attacks and bombings resulting in deaths or injuries on a scarily regular basis. “Those who know Thailand well and who have travelled to Thailand recently would know the alerts are only for certain parts of Thailand and not for the main tourist hotspots,” TAT explains. Phuket, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, Khao Lak and Krabi remain the most popular tourist destinations, TAT confirms. TAT emphasises that tourist safety remains an “ongoing priority” for Thailand, a country that relies heavily on the tourist dollar. Examples include a Bangkok and Phuket clampdown on illicit taxi operations, Pattaya and Hua Hin beachside walks being cleared of illegal business operations and more surveillance cameras and street lighting being installed in tourist destinations as well as the introduction of tourist police. Last month Thai authorities put in place measures to tighten law enforcement on traffic rules in hopes of improving road safety. The new regulations cover 10 key traffic rules including driving on the pavement, driving without a license, driving against the traffic, not giving way to pedestrians at crossings and driving while intoxicated. Providing tourists with positive and lasting memories of the country remains a top priority for TAT.