Few tourism operators worldwide will take away many great memories from 2009, but at least the year is ending on a high for Thailand’s tourist industry.
A surge in visitors in November has put Thailand in line to see its tourism arrivals top 13.5 million in 2009. Some officials are already forecasting 16 million in the New Year.
But the arrival figures hide an uneven performance for Thailand‘s different destinations. Chiang Mai has been hammered by the sharp downturn in some of its markets.
Phuket, on the other hand, has sailed through the slowdown virtually unscathed. The resilience of Australia’s economy helped, as did the growing list of low-cost carriers flying direct to Thailand‘s top resort island.
Yet it will be the tourists – not the operators – with the most to smile about in 2010.
It takes hotels up to two years to restore normal rates after introducing discounts. Guests can expect great value for money with rooms 20% or 30% lower than before the global slump.
Tourists visiting Thailand in 2010 should also look at packaged deals and book in advance. With the recovery, last-minute shoppers are destined to miss out on the bargains.