PATTAYA – Thailand surging Thai baht is taking its toll on tourism as fewer foreign tourists come to Thailand and more Thais flex their spending power overseas instead of on the Eastern Seaboard.
Ekasit Ngampichet, president of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, told the Pattaya Mail that he blamed the surging Thai baht – which hit a six-year high on Monday against the U.S. dollar – on the decline in Chinese and other foreign tour groups.
Ekasit said the surging Thai Baht has also made it cheaper for Thais to travel overseas so many domestic tourists who might come to Pattaya are instead heading aboard.
The Thai Baht has been Asia’s best performing currency in 2019, supported mainly by the opposing monetary policies of the Thai and American central banks.
The Bank of Thailand hiked its benchmark policy rate in December and has remained neutral throughout the year. The U.S. Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is leaning toward cutting interest rates, which is pushing down the dollar.
The strong Baht has taken a toll on Thai exports which are expected to record a zero or even negative growth this year.
Ekasit said hoteliers need to reduce room rates to offset the rise in the baht and create more interesting tour packages.
But he warned that long-term room-rate cuts will damage the industry and suggested the government should step in with subsidies.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Tourism Authority chief Yuthasak Suphasorn is blaming the high value of the Thai baht for the worse than expected tourist figures.
He admits that European visitors are being more careful over their money and that Thai tourism operators will now have to look to places like India to sustain growth.
Yuthasak said that European tour companies had been forced to raise their local prices anywhere between 10-20% meaning that many Europeans were looking to travel elsewhere for value.
Source: Pattaya Mail, The Thaiger