Thai Tourism Bends Without Breaking in Turmoil: Chart of the Day

Thailand’s tourism industry, which generates revenue equivalent to at least a 10th of economic output, will rebound after the eventual resolution between the government and protesters seeking to oust the prime minister, according to DBS Vickers Securities (Thailand) Co.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows monthly tourist arrivals in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, based on data compiled from state agencies, with Thailand on track to surpass its southern-border neighbor for the first full year since 1999, according to figures through October. The lower panel compares the benchmark Stock Exchange of Thailand Index and the SET Tourism and Leisure Index comprising 13 companies including Central Plaza Hotel Pcl and OHTL Pcl, operator of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

Police moved yesterday to defuse tensions with protesters, a sign that authorities were seeking to deflate efforts to oust premier Yingluck Shinawatra. The rallies were prompted by a proposed amnesty for offenses linked to protests since a 2006 coup that toppled Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin, who was then prime minister.

“The current political turmoil is making parts of the tourism industry lose a golden opportunity for foreign-currency earnings during the peak season,” said Chanpen Sirithanarattanakul, DBS Vickers’s head of research in Bangkok. “Still, tourism will have a strong recovery after the end of this protest because the country remains popular among foreigners on low costs and diverse attractions.”

Thailand is no stranger to upheaval. Since August 2006, the country has had six prime ministers, a coup, seizures by protesters of international airports and the torching of one of Bangkok’s biggest shopping centers. The government’s current forecast for tourist arrivals in 2013 is a record 26.4 million, 18 percent more than last year.

Bangkok was expected to attract more international overnight visitors than any other city, beating London for the first time, according to MasterCard Inc.’s annual Global Destination Cities Index. Sisdivachr Cheewarattanporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said impact from the protests may show up in early 2014, as some travelers may change plans. “Those who already paid for trips will continue to come, or just go to Phuket or Samui islands.”

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