Thailand's tourist industry -- the country's third largest foreign-exchange earner in 1973 -- has been hard-hit by a series of socio-economic problems this year.
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Background: Thailand's tourist industry -- the country's third largest foreign-exchange earner in 1973 -- has been hard-hit by a series of socio-economic problems this year.
According to the President of the Thai Tourist Association, Mr. Suchin Benchorangkul, the number of tourists visiting Thailand has dropped 27 per cent on last year's figures.
Major hotels in the country's capital, Bangkok, which had an occupancy rate of between 70 to 80 per cent at the beginning of 1974, are now experiencing an occupancy rate of only 30 per cent.
The country's labour unrest is partly to blame for the decline. In August, all the employees of the 411-room Siam International Hotel went on strike, demanding better pay and working conditions. A few weeks later, employees at another Bangkok luxury hotel -- the Dusit Thani -- also went on strike.
The month-long strikes cost one hotel almost 500,000 Baht (US$25,000) per day.
Another big factor for the decline in tourism is the drop in the number of Japanese tourists, who spent approximately US$ 20 million last year.
The anti-Japanese sentiment which swept through Thailand in late 1973 -- with student-organised demonstrations and boycotts of Japanese goods -- has scared off potential tourists form Japan.
A second reason has been the Japanese Government's decision to limit the amount of money a Japanese can take out of the country. The current limit is US$ 1,500 -- about half the previous limit.
The Thai Tourist Association has stepped up its publicity campaign in recent months to attract tourists. Last year, the industry accounted for more than US$ 175 million, but neighbouring Asian countries -- such as the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia -- are expected to provide heavy competition this year.
SYNOPSIS: Bangkok has long been a favourite stopping-off place for tourists travelling through Southeast Asia.
Tourism, in fact, was the country's third largest exchange earner. more than one million people visited Thailand last year, spending more than 175 million dollars.
But the future of the tourist industry in Thailand looks grim. It's been hard-hit by a series of scoio-economic problems this year.
The country's labour unrest has affected Bangkok's luxury hotels. In late August, the employees of the Dusit Thani Hotel went on strike for better pay and working conditions.
Before the strike, the hotel had an occupancy rate of up to 80 per cent. Now, it's lucky to fill 30 per cent of its rooms.
Another Bangkok luxury hotel -- the 411-room Siam International -- also had a strike.
The strikes -- lasting nearly a month -- cost the hotel almost 25,000 dollars a day.
Another reason for the decline in tourism is the drop in the number of Japanese tourists. They spent 20 million dollars last year.
There are very few Japanese among the tourists taking Thailand's popular water tours.
The anti-Japanese sentiment which swept through Thailand late last year has scared off potential tourists from Japan. Another reason has been the Japanese Government's decision to limit the amount of money a Japanese can take out of the country to 1,500 dollars.
Competition from neighboring Asian countries for a part of the market is also expected to cut into the Thai tourist industry.