International arrivals plunge drastically in wake of red-shirt turmoil; Tourism authority seeking Bt1.6bn budget to revive Thailand's image
The average number of arrivals is now about 20,000 a day, down from 30,000 prior to the start of protests at the Pan Fah Bridge on March 14, Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silapa-archa said yesterday.
The situation has worsened since Silom Road, in the heart of the city's central business district, was also sealed off in addition to protesters' occupying the Rajprasong area, a major tourism and shopping district.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry is seeking Bt1.6 billion to stimulate tourism in both domestic and international markets, with plans for joint promotional packages in cooperation with foreign airlines and travel agencies.
As well, visas will be issued free of charge to prospective foreign visitors, including 5,800 Chinese tourists who will arrive from May 6-10, while tax incentives will be given to Thai firms holding seminars and meetings at domestic tourist destinations.
In cooperation with foreign travel agencies, the ministry may also provide extra insurance to foreign travellers in Thailand.
Tourism Council of Thailand chairman Kongkrit Hiranyakit said the political conflict would likely reduce tourist arrivals 10 per cent year on year.
"If the Cabinet approves the Bt1.6-billion budget, we should be able to engineer a recovery in the fourth quarter, which is the high season," he said.
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