Thailand hopes to bring back tourists after terrible floods

WELCOME BACK::Tourists from Taiwan have been among the most reluctant to return, with numbers still down about a third from before last year’s flooding

Staff Writer, with CNA

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 - Page 3

Thai tourism officials said yesterday they were hoping to help revive their tourism industry after last year’s devastating floods by giving a discount on visa application fees and offering bargains at an upcoming travel fair in Taiwan.

“We hope to stimulate buying at the 2012 Taipei International Travel Fair because we have not seen a significant recovery in tourism after the flooding,” Thailand Tourism Division marketing manager Jake Hsieh said.

In October last year, Thailand experienced its worst flooding in decades, suffering hundreds of deaths and economic losses of at least US$45.7 billion, according to World Bank data.

The country’s tourism sector was among the hardest-hit, Hsieh said, adding that Taiwanese have been more reluctant than people from other countries to travel to Thailand since the floods.

Because of the flood damage, the number of flights between Taiwan and Thailand will not return to normal levels until early next year, he said.

To help revive Thailand’s travel and tourism sector, Hsieh said his division would reduce the cost of visa applications by NT$1,100 (US$38) for the first 1,000 people at the travel fair who book trips to the country.

Travel bargains will be offered at the fair, he added.

The number of Taiwanese tourists to Thailand dropped to a three-year low of 216,555 during the first nine months of the year, according to Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau.

Before the flooding last year, Taiwanese tourist arrivals in Thailand had remained steady at 320,000 a year, the bureau’s data showed.