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Asia Minute: Thailand's stronger tourism numbers may not linger

Thailand Russian Tourists
Salinee Prab
/
AP
Tourists lounge under umbrellas along Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand, Friday, March 11, 2022.

Thailand is heading for a busy end of the year tourist season.

Earlier this year, the country eased its way back to opening its borders, which will fully reopen to international visitors in July.

Thailand’s government set a goal of 10-million visitors by the end of this year, and expectations are that target will be hit by the end of this week. The main sources of travelers to Thailand now include countries that are neighbors or near neighbors, such as Malaysia, India, Laos, Cambodia and Singapore.

Flights are increasing from now until early spring on routes from Europe and Australia, as well as elsewhere in Asia. But the enthusiasm may not linger.

The head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand warns that the concept of “pent-up demand” that has followed the peak of the pandemic may wind down after the spring.

And there are other challenges. Before the pandemic, the largest source of visitors to Thailand was China — where residents now face restrictions on outbound travel and uncertainty about when those curbs may be lifted.

Competition has also picked up. The Bangkok Post reports that some Scandinavian groups who have traditionally come to Phuket for decades are now shifting to the Indonesian island of Bali.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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