Games Boost Tourism to Thailand

December 16, 1998 - 0:0
BANGKOK Tourists coming to Thailand this year have increased by six percent to 7.7 million, with more than 700,000 arrivals resulting from Bangkok's hosting of the Asian Games, according to a leading government official. Pitak Intrawityanunt, Chairman of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and minister to the prime minister's office, insisted the 1998 Asian Games have had a positive effect on tourist arrivals.

Around 700,000 people have come to Thailand as a direct result of the Asian Games, in the months before and during the games, said Pitak. Overall, tourism has increased six percent. we are hoping that the Asian Games will leave a positive legacy of Thailand and encourage more people to visit us. Pitak said Bangkok's successful staging of the Asian Games will help the Thai capital in any future bid for the Olympics, possibly in 2016. Thailand has the capabilities to put on world-class sporting events as we hope to show with the Asian Games, said Pitak. We want to show the visitors from all over the world the Thai smile and that we can put on a good show, like the Olympics. Pitak said the TAT's amazing Thailand promotion has also helped to boost tourist arrivals.

One of Thailand's target areas is India and Pitak recently returned from Calcutta, where he attended a meeting with representatives from India, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka. The economic crisis has swept away east Asian tourists from Thailand but Indian tourist arrivals to Thailand keep on growing, said. He said there were 135,121 Indian tourist arrivals to Thailand last year. To encourage more tourists from India, Thailand allows Indian visitors to apply for visas on arrival.

Pitak said that Indian passport holders may also enter the kingdom visa-free for a maximum of eight hours. Thailand hope to launch several tourist promotion schemes next year, culminating in the 72nd birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in December. Thais consider 72 an auspicious number as it represents the sixth cycle of one's life. (AFP)