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Falling yen for Thailand
Jeremy Colson, Bangkok
 

Jeremy Colson, Bangkok  
(19th Jul 2002)


JAPANESE arrivals to Thailand have nose-dived this year and although the downward trend may be levelling off, the situation is causing concern at the highest level.

De facto tourism minister, Mr Somsak Thepsuthin, said he was particularly worried about Japanese tourism numbers, and he would be asking the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to mount a one-off campaign to reverse the downward trend.

Arrivals from Japan for the first four months have fallen by 25,000, down 7.45 per cent compared with the same period in 2001.

Japan has traditionally been Thailand"s largest single source of tourist arrivals, accounting for more than 13 per cent of its total.

A leading Japanese business newspaper said last week tighter purse strings and lingering fears about foreign travel following the 9-11 tragedy were keeping the Japanese home this year.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported bookings for overseas tours for this month and August were down by as much as 20 per cent. JTB said figures were down 20 per cent across the board and 50 per cent for the US. It also reported demand for Asia-Pacific destinations such as Malaysia and Australia were up.

But a spokesman from the TAT statistical analysis department played down the concern. He said: “Yes, figures are down, but we think they"ll come back in the second half of the year and we don"t see a need at this stage to do a special campaign in Japan.”

The spokesman said TAT would continue to use niche market promotions targeting honeymooners, senior citizens and students.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the TAT office in Osaka, Ms Akemi Inoue, said a bigger budget would certainly help to boost the figures. “But I believe people from Osaka and the Kansai region are less fearful...The biggest drop has been from the Tokyo area.”

 
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