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Tourism Authority of Thailand

Chinese flight reduction to Thailand will deal a blow

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was left reeling yesterday after four major Chinese airlines announced that…

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was left reeling yesterday after four major Chinese airlines announced that they would slash their flights to Thailand by 40 percent, with senior TAT officials saying that the decision would deal an inevitable blow to Thailand`s tourism industry.



Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, Executive Director of the TAT`s Marketing Service Department, said that any reduction in the number of Chinese visitors coming to Thailand would adversely affect Thai tourism, but said that an estimate of the damage could only be made after the affair had been studied in more details.

It is thought that the airlines` decision is due to fears over the spread of avian flu, which has affected both countries.



However, it is not clear whether the decision is based on China`s wish to contain avian flu within its borders, or fears of avian flu spreading from Thailand.

Nonetheless, Bangkok Airways insisted yesterday that it would continue operating flights to China as normal, and that it would push ahead with the launch of new routes to China in April.

Thai Airways President Kanok Abhiradee also downplayed the Chinese airlines` decision, noting that the Chinese government had been controlling movements of Chinese nationals ever since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis last year.

Any adverse impact, he said, would be relatively short term.

He also expressed optimism that the recent signing of an open-sky deal between the aviation sectors of the two countries would serve to boost visitor numbers from China in the future.(TNA)–E006

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