China supplied more than 2.6 million visits to Thailand during the first quarter, up a staggering 31% improvement over slightly more than 2 million visitors in the first quarter of 2015.
Released late last week, the ministry’s data showed the country attracted 9,038,893 international visits during the first three months of this year compared to 7,829,153 visits during the same period last year.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said tourism continued to expand in the first quarter of this year, which would drive the number of international travellers to reach 32 million by year’s end.
“The number of foreigners visiting the country is rising steadily. Thailand’s focus now is on enhancing the image of Thailand to be a quality leisure destination through Thainess. At the same time, we need to ensure a balance between tourism growth and its social and environmental impact.”
The ministry data is based entirely on foreign arrivals counted at immigration checkpoints (land, sea and air). It does not reflect accurately how many leisure travellers visit the country; just trips made by foreigners. It will include foreigners working in Thailand, retirees, business visitors and cross-border trade visits of more than 24 hours duration.
The minister added that sports related travel is an emerging trend focused on mountain biking, marathons, golf, tennis and sailing. Learning the skills of Muay Thai has also been identified as a reason for visiting Thailand.
In March alone, tourist arrivals reached 2,948,690, an increase of 15.39% from 2,555,362 visits during the same month last year.
By regions, all markets recorded increases in the third month of the year except Oceania.
East Asia (Asean included) recorded the highest growth of 17.70% from 1,633,131 to 1,922,203 visits.
The markets that showed improvements were: Cambodia (+43.94%); Hong Kong (+32.27%); Myanmar (+31.70%); China (+29.10%); Laos (+17.91%); Brunei (+14.82%); the Philippines (+10.86%); Malaysia (+8.82%); Singapore (+8.42%); Indonesia (+6.47%); Japan (+5.11%); South Korea (+3.05%); and Vietnam (+2.96%).
Taiwan was the only market to register a decline at 17.55%.
Americas posted a growth of 16.39% from 111,788 to 130,112 visits. Argentina reported a 48.18% increase from 4,255 to 6,305. The United States recorded the highest arrivals from the Americas at 87,174 up 16.74% from 74,675 followed by Canada (25,107; +8.75%) and Brazil (4,552; +7.74%).
Africa showed an increase of 16.26% from 12,900 to 14,998 visits. The main market South Africa improved 29.63% from 5,531 to 7,170.
Europe grew 12.70% from 560,964 visits to 632,223 visits. The markets that showed improvements were: Russia (+29.21%); Belgium (+27.00%); Ireland (+25.33%); Spain (+22.71%); the United Kingdom (+17.97%); Switzerland (+11.90%); France (+10.95%); Italy (+10.14%); Norway (+7.13%); East Europe (+6.67%); Germany (+6.47%); Sweden (+5.87%); Denmark (+5.86%); and the Netherlands (+1.38%).
Finland and Austria were the only two markets showing declines of 6.91% and 1.80% respectively.
South Asia represented an increase of 9.91% from 106,958 to 117,557 visits. India led the field supplying 90,735 visits growing 15.28% from 78,706 followed by Bangladesh (8,145; -12.07%), Sri Lanka (6,262; +0.95%), Pakistan (6,086; +16.23%), and Nepal (3,219; +41.68%).
The Middle East increased 4.16% from 57,990 to 60,400 visits. The United Arab Emirates recorded the highest arrivals with 11,286 visits, although it had declined by 4.82% from 11,858 visits.
Other main markets in the Middle East: Israel (10,565; -26.05%); Kuwait (3,717; +2.59%); Egypt (2,102; +24.23%); and Saudi Arabia (1,929; +35.18%).
Oceania posted a decline of 0.61% from 71,631 to 71,197 visits. The main market New Zealand improved 2.62% (7,802) and Australia dropped 0.87% (63,165).
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