This high season, KResearch projects a slower outlook for inbound travelers given a high 2014 base. Growth in Chinese arrivals during 4Q15 will probably not be as good as during 4Q14 when the government attracted more Chinese tourists via visa fee exemptions, thus yielding an abnormally high base of comparison. KResearch holds the view that if Thai international tourism can be maintained at the current momentum, the number of foreign holidaymakers may reach perhaps 7.68-8.00 million, up 2.6-6.9 percent YoY, versus 4Q14 when growth was 7.3 percent YoY. Foreign arrivals over the entirety of 2015 would then reach 30.19 million, skyrocketing 21.7 YoY.
The major destinations receiving foreign travelers during 4Q15 (exclusive of Bangkok) will still be southern provinces that are also popular with Europeans. Another factor contributing to upbeat sentiment in the South would be that many foreign air carriers have increased flights to Southern Thailand this yearend. Meanwhile, tourism in Chon Buri (Pattaya) will likely gain from the opening of U-Tapao International Airport, and Chiang Mai is expected to be welcoming a steady stream of Chinese visitors.
Foreigners visiting Thailand during 4Q15 will likely spend substantially on merchandise as and souvenirs, which are slated to be their second largest expenditure after accommodation. Taking this into account, retailers may see opportunities to stage promotional campaigns directed at foreign tourists.
Yearend mega-events, including sporting competitions and annual festivals, will help attract new European and American travelers to Phuket. Nonetheless, mid-level tourists from China should still flock to Thai beach resorts there, thus possibly turning away these Western voyagers who seek tranquility and privacy to adjacent provinces, e.g., Krabi and Phang Nga. This factor may be a challenge for Phuket to keep its image as a destination for high-end visitors.
Apart from international tourists, businesses in Chiang Mai should be prepared to deal with an influx of Thai tourists who usually travel there during the high season in the final quarter of each year.
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