The industry has remained sluggish during the past two quarters, but the plans are expected to lay the groundwork for continued growth in 2017 and 2018, Mr Yuthasak said.
“Moving forward, the TAT will draw focus on increasing the number of quality tourists,” he said. “We project the tourism industry will bring in B3.1 trillion in revenue in 2018 – up from B2.7 trillion baht this year.”
While the TAT’s forecasts are strong, a number of economic and political factors can lower the estimates, Mr Yuthasak told the Bangkok Post.
Starting this year, Thailand will see a decrease in average tourism growth rates.
Regional competitors are part of the issue. Vietnam and Laos, for example, are stiffening their competition with Thailand by offering discounted travel packages.
Hat Yai’s economy has been strongly hit by the decrease in Malaysian and Singaporean tourists.
“During the first six months of this year, tourism grew by only 4.3%, due to global and domestic economic slowdown in markets,” Mr Yuthasak said.
While growth has slowed down, international arrivals to Thailand are still growing. Close to 35 million people are expected to make their way to Thailand – up from 34mn in 2016, and 32.6m in 2015, Mr Yuthasak said.
Of note, with Thailand having a population of just over 70mn people, having 35mn tourists expected to visit Thailand in 2018 will effectively see on average one in three people in the country in those 12 months being a tourist.
Meanwhile, local tourists are expected to make 154mn trips in 2017, up from 145mn trips in 2016.
The number is projected to increase further to 162mn trips next year.
The TAT is focusing on attracting first-time visitors from second-tier cities in Europe and China.
China will remain the biggest source of arrivals this year, with 9mn visitors in 2017 or 27% of the total.
Mr Yuthasak said the government allocated a budget of B7.08 billion to TAT this year, an increase of 2.4% from last year’s budget.
The TAT is now in the process of fine-tuning its marketing plan to bolster tourism, he added.