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Tourism warning flare: Dip in international arrivals, spending spurs caution

Tourism warning flare: Dip in international arrivals, spending spurs caution

PHUKET: International tourist arrival and spending statistics released late last week has sent up a warning flare for the country’s tourism industry, with both international arrivals and spending by international arrivals both showing marginal falls compared with the same period last year.

By The Phuket News

Monday 29 April 2019, 03:40PM

Fewer Chinese tourists are gracing our shores. Photo: Miguel Discart

Fewer Chinese tourists are gracing our shores. Photo: Miguel Discart

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism & Sports last Thursday (Apr 25), international arrivals for March 2019 totalled 3,473,088, compared with 3,497,260 for March 28 – a fall of 0.69%/

Spending in March also fell to B184.45 billion for March 2019, compared with B186.886bn for March last year – a fall of 1.30%.

International passenger traffic at Phuket International Airport also fell during March, with 531,009 international arrivals and 623,462 international departures during the month bringing total international passenger traffic through the airport to 1,176,436.

Bill Barnett of hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks in a released issued last Sunday (Apr 28) noted, “To date, 2019 is shaping up to be a slightly volatile year for tourism to the island. Passenger arrivals at Phuket International Airport rose 1% year-on-year in January, yet took a step back in February with a substantial 6% decline.”

In February 2019, Phuket airport recorded 534,378 international arrivals and 604,859 international departures.

“While we are still early in the year, overall visitor arrivals to Thailand on a country-wide basis have lost ground compared to the same period in 2018, so in reality Phuket’s challenges match those of the entire country,” he said.

Overall, Thailand welcomed 10,795,248 visitor arrivals for the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.76% year on year, while estimated visitor spending for the quarter reached B573.798bn, an increase of just 0.38% year on year.

Main market China saw a 1.87% fall in visitor arrivals during March, from 1,004,030 last year to 985,232 this year, but a 1.07% increase in visitor spending from B56.077bn in March last year compared with B56.678bn in March this year.

Overall, however, Mainland China’s influence as a source market seems to be waning, with arrivals and spending for Q1 2019 both showing marginal falls compared with last year.

Total arrivals from Mainland China for Q1 2019 reached 3,119,825, compared with 3,174,524 for Q1 2018, a fall of 1.72%, while spending fell 1.82%, from B175.724bn in Q1 last year to B172.529bn in Q1 this year.


In contrast, Hong Kong showed 2.09% growth in visitor arrivals and 4.52% increase in spending over the quarter, while Taiwan showed 17.35% growth in visitor arrivals and 19.65% increase in visitor spending.

Japan also showed growth as a source market over the quarter rising to 157,890 visitor arrivals over the three months (+9.28%) and a corresponding increase in spending of 12.26% for the quarter year on year.

Korea also showed growth with 7.11% growth in visitor arrivals for quarter to 537,088, and an increase in spending of 7.10% over the quarter to B23,216bn.

Meanwhile, Russia stumbled as a source market, with a 1.30% fall in arrivals for March year on year (194,471 in 2019, compared with 197,023 in 2018) and a 3.27% fall in spending (B12,946bn in March 2019, down from B13.383bn in March 2018).

Over Q1 2019, Russia also showed a fall of 0.56% in arrivals year on year (615,548 Q1 2019, compared with 618,996 Q1 2018), and 1.59% fall in spending B44.632bn Q1 2019, compared with B45,354bn Q1 2018).

India, Thailand’s latest targeted market continued to show high growth with arrivals showing a 34.66% increase for March year on year (163,158 in March 2019, compared with 121,164 in March 2018), and a 37.35% increase in spending for the month (B6.882bn in March 2019, compared with B5,011bn in March 2018).

Over the quarter, India continues to show year on year growth, with 450,224 arrivals so far this year compared with 360,223 last year (+24.98%), and an increase in spending from B15,323bn over Q1 last year to B19,465bn in Q1 this year. (+27.03%).

Most European markets continued to slow, with year on year falls in arrivals and spending for Q1, as follows: Austria (-6.11%, -3.53%); Belgium (-2.38%, -3.50%); Denmark (-4.95%, -3.54%); Finland (-13.19%, -12.96%); France (+2.54%, -0.99%); Germany (-5.67%, -7.16%); Italy (-1.40%, -1.29%); Netherlands (+3.91%, +0.92%); Norway (-2.87%, -3.91%); Sweden (-11.87%, -10.82%); Switzerland (-11.46%, -12.83%); United Kingdom (-1.17%, -4.82%).

Eastern Europe, however, showed a 5.47% growth in the number of arrivals and a 2.01% increase in visitor spending.

Of note, arrivals from the US, while remaining relatively low, grew 5.02% over the quarter (322,576 in Q1 2019, compared with 307,171 in Q1 2018), and a 6.97% increase in spending (B24,538bn in Q1 2019, compared with B22.939bn in Q1 2018).

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Kurt | 01 May 2019 - 21:09:29

Officials have 'rich' fantasy when it comes to percentages,  amounts, figures, statistics and time planning (see Chalong Underpass, should have been open since April) . The funny thing is they feel comfortable in the knowledge that no one can check their sayings. And when the time comes inhabitant are able to discover the truth the officials are already gone to other positions.

CaptainJack69 | 01 May 2019 - 12:59:19

These numbers seems very precise. Can we believe them? When the inevitable story comes out tomorrow telling us arrivals have increased year-on-year, which do we believe? I know which I believe.

Kurt | 30 April 2019 - 17:26:07

They keep releasing figures and percentages. True or fake? For what? Tourism is not percentages/bookkeeping.
Tourism starts with Immigration welcome service with a smile, safe taxi/minivan rides for decent price after arrival. Not a tombola or you may be yes, may be no end up in a hospital before you reach your hotel during the ride. And so on.

Kurt | 30 April 2019 - 17:16:20

There is always a 'time delay' in matters, that counts too for tourism decline. The world already looks years with open mouth how thai officialdom 'handles' tourists. The word 'handles' in fact means: ..Tourists, be aware of our thai regimental guidance, with very strong punishments if you not follow thai rules or laws who just come out of the blue to rip you off... 

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