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Thais hope to win over Vietnamese tourists   2008-12-11 - Thanh Nien

In the wake of political protests that left many travelers stranded in Thailand, Thai authorities are planning to lure Vietnamese to visit their near neighbor with discount tour packages and a new advertising campaign.



At a press briefing in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, Tourism Authority of Thailand Director Pichai Raktasinha said as the Suvarnabhumi International Airport had resumed normal operations, Thai tourism authorities were working to regain the trust of international tourists.

Flights resumed to Bangkok’s main international airport last week, after antigovernment protestors shut down the city’s two international airports for more than a week.

Last year, more than 250,000 Vietnamese traveled to Thailand, a 50 percent year-on-year increase, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

“Of this year’s target of 300,000 (Vietnamese visitors), we now hope to achieve about the same figure as 2007 because of the recent turmoil in Thailand and also the global economic crisis,” Pichai said.

“Our current occupancy rate is only 20-40 seats of the 100-seater Boeing 717’s daily flight between Bangkok and HCMC and it would be worse after the turmoil,” Nitikorn Komkris, a senior sales executive at Bangkok Airways said.

However, the situation was expected to improve during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday early next year, he said.

This year, around 169,000 Thai tourists visited Vietnam between January and November, accounting for a third of the Thais who traveled overseas.

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