TAT aims for 1 million American visitors this year

Yankee come visit! The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has high hopes that the number of visitors from the United States will top 1 million for the first time ever this year, as the agency targets younger travelers and forges agreements with EVA Airlines and Disney to promote travel between the two countries.

“The TAT is feeling upbeat that U.S. tourist arrivals will reach 1 million for the first time this year, given myriad positive factors,” said Kittipong Prapattong, director of the TAT’s Los Angeles office.

Kittipong said he was optimistic that visitors from the United States will continue to climb this year because the U.S. economy is steadily recovering and unemployment has reached new lows. More than 900,000 Americans visited Thailand last year. The figure was impressive considering the great distance and long traveling times between the two countries.

Should THAI Airways International resume direct flights between the U.S. and Thailand that would further serve to increase the number of American visitors, Kittipong said. THAI has occasionally raised the idea of resuming the flights, but budget constraints have prevented them from materializing. THAI had operated direct flights between Bangkok and Los Angeles, and Bangkok and New York in 2006-7, cutting several hours of the journey. At least one stop is now required for any flight from the U.S. to Thailand.

In the meantime, the TAT recently signed an agreement with EVA Airlines of Taiwan to jointly promote long-haul travel between the U.S and Thailand. EVA operates 90 flights a week between the U.S. and Taiwan, Kittipong said, providing a quick and easy connection from Taiwan to Thailand. “The deal will help boost air connectivity between Thailand and the U.S. market,” he said.

The TAT has also inked a deal with Walt Disney Company to feature more promotions and offers for Thai tourism before its movie screenings in an effort to attract young travellers and families.

“The high-potential segments from U.S. markets are young travelers and high-profile people such as celebrities,” Kittipong said.

After hosting 32 million visitors in 2016, several analysts are forecasting tourist arrivals in the neighborhood of 37 million this year, with 12 million tourists having arrived in the first four months of 2017.

Tourism directly accounted for 9.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, and indirectly its share of GDP was estimated at 11 percent, underscoring the industry’s significance to the economy.

Photo courtesy of ThailandInsiderUSA