|By Suchat Sritama, The Nation, Bangkok,
Thailand / Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 14, 2011--BANGKOK (THE NATION-THAILAND/ANN) -- The travel business in Thailand is likely to suffer a negative impact over the next three to six months as Japanese tourists defer plans to come here, while Thais are likely to travel to other countries for fear of being caught in another quake.
Anake Srishevachart, president of the Thai-Japan Tourism Business Association, said arrivals from Japan would experience a negative impact this year over three to six months from now, between April to December.
But he said there would not be much impact on arrivals in the short term as most of tourists who booked packages were from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, far from Sendai, which was hit by the tsunami last Friday.
But he predicted that new bookings from Japan would slow until the end of this year especially from the affected prefectures, and the capital, Tokyo.
Japan was one of the top three markets for Thai tourism with over one million visitors a year before the political crisis hit Thailand last year. The number was expected to rise and exceed a million visitors this year after plunging following the red-shirt mayhem last year.
"Now, we may not see one million Japanese tourists this year as earlier projected," Anake said.
Outbound travel from Thailand was likely to suffer a bigger impact because Thais tourists would fear of another quake as well as problems related to nuclear power plants in Japan.
Tokyo Disneyland announced it would close temporarily for 10 days while many other concerts and entertainment events have been halted.
Tour operators in Thailand are already offering plans for travellers to visit other countries instead of Japan.
But Charoen Wangananond, head of the Thai Travel Agents Association, said the number of Thai tourists would grow this year despite problems in Japan. He said most Thais usually did not visit Sendai and the northeast of Japan so they were likely to keep going to their favorite places like Tokyo and Osaka.
Charoen said about 300,000 Thais would travel to Japan this year, a rise of 25 percent from last year. All airlines from Thailand to Japan have resumed operations after hours of delays after airports were closed in Japan.
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand / Asia News Network
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