Thai tourism tumbles under blanket of smog, fat baht

The Association of Thai Travel Agents expects air pollution and the strong baht to decrease the number of foreign tourists this year.

But its president, Vichit Prakobgosol, is confident that the same problems recurring at the beginning of each year can be resolved.

“The main negative factor is the baht’s appreciation, which might decrease the number of tourists this year to below the targeted 41 million-42 million,” he said. “We’re expecting Bt29 per US dollar, down from the current Bt30.

“The PM2.5 dust in the air is another concern for many tourists. They’re not going to feel safe if the locals are wearing facemasks.

“Vichit would like to see the government give stronger support to the Tourism Authority of Thailand on marketing and entrepreneurs develop new goods and services that are reasonably priced.

“If the government and private sector don’t work together, they’ll lose out to competitors such as Malaysia and Vietnam, where the currency isn’t an issue.

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