HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Songkran all over again!

TAT looking for creativity and innovation for travel show

Sanctions against Myanmar seen as highly counterproductive

Mekong Tourism Forum 2011 is open for registration

Chiang Saen Mekong River International Triathlon 2011

Amari Rincome slated for major redevelopment

Single visa system for Asean?

Poi Sang Long Ceremony in Mae Hong Son

European tourists to Thailand


Songkran all over again!

The Songkran Festival is celebrated across the country.
(Photo courtesy of TAT. )

By Reinhard Hohler

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced the upcoming “Songkran Splendors Festival” that offers visitors from all over the globe a memorable experience with a variety of delightful, traditional celebrations of the Thai New Year. As this year marks the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday, “Songkran Splendors” is focusing on marvelous and engaging cultural events that will take place in Bangkok and 12 history-rich cities across Thailand during 7 to 19 April 2011.

While renowned worldwide for its water-splashing street parties, Songkran stems from ancient traditions that are still observed. Songkran is a time for re-unions, when families get together and renew their ties and honor family elders. The meaningful elements of Songkran are expressed through culture-rich ceremonies and rituals that reflect both the essence of "Thai-ness" as well as local beliefs and practices.

The word Songkran - meaning “move into” - has its roots in the Sanskrit language. The water that symbolizes Songkran has an underlying significance, as it represents the cleansing and purification process. Songkran is actually the original Thai New Year, marking the end of a twelve-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year.

During Songkran, the unique community spirit is reflected in activities, such as the cleaning of temples, presenting merit-making offerings to monks - rituals in which Buddha statues and images are bathed with scented lustral water to show respect - building sand “chedi” and decorating temple grounds. Another important Songkran tradition is showing gratitude to elders and respected individuals by pouring scented lustral water over their hands.

The 2011 Songkran Splendors Festival is a very special one, as we will also honor the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday. Visitors to Thailand will enjoy a rich cultural experience this year with a series of events planned for 13 locations nationwide to commemorate H.M. the King's birthday. With the Songkran Splendors Festival, visitors can experience the amazing ways, in which people living in different areas of Thailand celebrate Songkran and experience many different aspects of Thailand's heritage.

The Songkran Splendors Festival features activities and events in Bangkok as well as in 12 provinces across the five regions of Thailand: North, Northeast, Central, East, and South. While Chiang Mai and Sukhothai are the key venues for visitors, who want a Northern Thailand Songkran experience, provinces in the Northeast, such as Khon Kaen, Nakhon Phanom, and Nong Khai, will offer a somewhat different perspective on the festival – Isan-style.

The Songkran Splendors Festival will also highlight Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri, and Samut Prakan, three provinces in Central Thailand. Beach lovers are welcome to celebrate Songkran in the eastern province of Chon Buri, which includes Pattaya. In Phuket at the Andaman Sea visitors can enjoy Songkran with a southern flavor, same as in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province and Hat Yai in Songkhla Province.

Highlights of the Songkran Splendors Festival and the 13 provinces include:

Bangkok Songkran Splendors Festival (9-15 April 2011)

Visitors can explore, how the Songkran Festival is celebrated among the four regions of Thailand at Nagaraphirom Park (Suan Nagaraphirom) and Wat Pho in Bangkok. They can sample a variety of Thai dishes and local desserts, see fabulous cultural performances, and visit the Nine Sacred Places. There are many more activities to choose from in areas of Bangkok including the Banglumphu community, Khao San Road, Phra Athit Road, Santichai Prakan Park, and Wisut Kasat, under the theme “Love Songkran in Your Home Town”.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival, Chiang Mai (12-15 April 2011)

Chiang Mai, the Rose of the North, is renowned for one of the grandest Songkran celebrations in Thailand. Visitors can take part in the opening ceremony for the Songkran Festival 2011 with a wonderful parade around Chiang Mai City. They can also go local and pour some jasmine-scented water on a Buddha image and elders, enjoy Lan Na-style cultural performances and traditions, and try out various Northern foods along the streets.

Sukhothai Songkran Festival (11-15 April 2011)

In this north-central province, visitors will have a chance to watch the “ordination” of novices at Phaya Lithai Memorial Plaza, Si Satchanalai district, as well as at the Sukhothai Historical Park. The local Songkran celebration includes a variety of entertainment and performances, a parade, and food fairs. Visitors who want to immerse themselves deep into the roots of classic Thai culture must not miss exploring this city.

Songkran Festival and Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival on Khao Nieo Road, Khon Kaen (8-15 April 2011)

Khon Kaen lies in the heart of the Northeast. Here, visitors can experience the longest human wave in the world. Don't miss the water splashing on "Sticky Rice Street" and the procession of decorated ox carts. There is also a variety of entertainment, folk plays, and a food fair at Kaen Nakhon Lake in Khon Kaen.

Nakhon Phanom Songkran Festival (12-15 April 2011)

At Sai Thong Sri Kottabun Beach in Muang District and Renu Nakhon District, Nakhon Phanom, visitors can join in a Buddha image bathing ceremony at the birthday pagoda. For a special cultural experience, visitors can take part in making a sand sculpture that is believed to bless people with good health, as well as watch a procession presented in the Renu Nakhon tradition.

Nong Khai Songkran Festival (6-18 April 2011)

Visitors can be enchanted by the beautiful procession at Wat Pho Chai and see water being sprinkled on the sacred Luang Pho Phra Sai Buddha image in Nong Khai Province. Of course, there is plenty of water splashing, while the cultural heritage of the Mekong River area is celebrated through ethnic performances and entertainment.

Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Songkran Festival (13 April 2011)

In Thailand's ancient capital, Songkran celebrations will take place at various sites around the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya City Island. Experience Buddhist merit-making and join the elephants and their mahouts for some Songkran water-splashing fun. “Mon” Songkran Celebrations will also be held at Wat Tong Bo in Sao Kradong in the Bang Pa-In District of Ayutthaya. There will be perfect photo opportunities in a procession of swan and centipede flags, as well as the Mon-style Buddha image bathing ritual.

The Great Songkran Day 2011 in Suphan Buri (13-14 April 2011)

Along Nean Kaew Road in Suphan Buri, in Thailand's central region, visitors can enjoy a procession featuring the golden Luang Pho To Buddha image, along with other processions put together by public and private entities in the province. There will also be folk music performances, a Miss Songkran beauty contest, and water splashing with Suphan Buri artists.

Phra Pradaeng Songkran Festival, Samut Prakan (April 22-24 2011)

This is one of the few places in Thailand that celebrates the Songkran Festival in the Thai-Mon style, featuring a magnificent parade. Visitors can learn, how to play saba, enjoy a “Mon” folk play, plus many other forms of entertainment, and see a procession of swan and centipede flags.

Chon Buri Songkran Festival (13-21 April 2011)

There are four key venues for the Songkran festival in Chon Buri province, which are Koh Si Chang, Wan Lai Bang Saen, Wan Lai Pattaya and Si Maha Racha. The "Kong Khao" Religious Ritual, which is also related to the Thai New Year, includes a procession of floats and Buddha images, plus the ritual bathing of Buddha images. A must-see for visitors at Koh Si Chang is the tradition of local men carrying a lady to the sea and back, followed by a folk dance.

Songkran on the Beach, Phuket (10- 13 April 2011)

Visitors can join in a communal Thai New Year merit-making ceremony, witness a procession of Phra Phuttha Sihing Buddha images along Patong Beach, and pay homage to elders with scented lustral water. A range of events will be held at Pa Loma (Dolphin) Public Park and the port, as well at the Jungceylon activity plaza overlooking Patong Beach.

Nakhon Si Thammarat Songkran Festival (11-15 April 2011)

Visitors to this southern province can participate in the Thai New Year by bathing the Phra Phuttha Sihing image. Other highlights include the “Nang Kradan” procession and a Swing Ceremony to welcome Phra I-Suan. Exciting activities will take place at Wat Phra Boromathat and Si Thamma Sokarat Park, Sanam Na Mueang, Phra I-Suan Hall, and Phra Narai Hall.

Hat Yai Midnight Songkran Festival, Songkhla (9-15 April 2011)

The largest city in the south of Thailand celebrates Songkran with water-splashing, beauty pageants and other activities. The Midnight Songkran Festival also features late-night fun on Niphat Uthit Road in Hat Yai.

By the way, in neighboring Myanmar the traditional Water Festival will be celebrated during April 9-21 - the longest one ever. Please note!
For more information on specific events, please visit:

TAT looking for creativity and innovation for travel show

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is calling on the new range of creative and innovative travel industry sellers from around Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion to sign up for booth space at its annual travel trade show, ‘Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the GMS’.

Sellers from Thailand as well as Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Yunnan Province of Southern China are being encouraged to apply as TAT pursues a target of 400 sellers this year.

Scheduled to be held between 8-10 June at the Exhibition Centre Hall, IMPACT, Muang Thong Thani, the event is positioned as the primary event of the GMS countries. All booths are available for travel operators and service businesses across Thailand and the GMS countries.

Sellers are categorised into key sectors of the travel industry: Hotels and Resorts, Tour Operators and Travel Agents, Eco and Adventure, Wellness and Spa, Airlines, Entertainment/Theme Parks/Culture Products, Golf Courses, Associations, Suppliers of Travel Services and NTOs.

The application deadline has been extended from 31 March 2011 to 15 April 2011. The early bird standard rate of 35,000 Baht per booth (including two participating delegates) is also being kept unchanged.

TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni said, “The TTM+ GMS trade show is an excellent platform for many of the excellent new products and services that have emerged throughout Thailand and the GMS to consider exhibiting at the event.

“To help exhibitors get good business prospects, we are working hard to attract new buyers from productive markets; such as, India, Australia, the CIS countries and Central Asian Republics and even Latin America and Southern Africa. This is in addition to established markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, USA, Russia and Korea.

“Last year, we had buyers for the first time from countries including Portugal, Poland, Kazakhstan, as well as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.” In terms of cost-effectiveness, there is no better event for Thai and regional sellers to meet with global buyers who are looking for precisely the new products we hope to see at the TTM+.”

Mr Suraphon noted that the region’s new range of sellers, especially the small and medium sized enterprises, have developed creative new products and services but lack the marketing muscle to exhibit at international trade shows.

“Over the last few years, these new entrepreneurs have changed the face of the Thai tourism industry. Many of them are winners of our Thailand Tourism Awards and are well worth featuring in any holiday package, especially for special interest, niche-market tour operators seeking to establish their differentiation factor."

Application forms can be downloaded from the official website until April 15, 2011. (TAT)

Sanctions against Myanmar seen as highly counterproductive

By Reinhard Hohler

According to media sources in Yangon, European diplomats held talks with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and other Myanmar activists on Tuesday about the possible lifting of Western sanctions, an opposition party leader said.

About 25 European Union diplomats from Bangkok, including some from France, Germany, Italy as well as locally based ambassadors, attended the meeting in Yangon, according to Khin Maung Swe, Leader of the National Democratic Force (NDF).

He was present at the talks along with Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition Democratic Party chairman Thu Wai and three ethnic minority party representatives.

"We mainly discussed lifting sanctions. They (the diplomats) asked whether the government would get more benefits if they lifted sanctions," he told AFP.

"They did not argue anything but noted it down. They seemed to reconsider."
The release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in November 2010 after a widely criticised election has re-ignited a debate over the sanctions, enforced notably by the EU and the United States in response to human rights abuses.

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), "didn't commit much" to Tuesday's discussion, according to Khin Maung Swe, whose party is a breakaway group from the NLD.

"But sometimes she asked to wait and see when she replied to some questions," he said.
An NLD spokesman, Ohn Kyaing, said the party had no details to release about the meeting, but a European diplomat in Yangon said the talks were aimed at "creating interactions" between Myanmar's opposition parties.

"Everyone kept to their positions," the diplomat told AFP, declining to be named. "They are not used to discussing and negotiating among themselves, so the dialogue was not easy. This is not in their culture."

Khin Maung Swe said he told the diplomats that people had been suffering because of sanctions.

"They asked which kind of sanctions we would like to be lifted. I said especially those on trade and investment as they really affect the people."

Global think-tank International Crisis Group said this month that two decades of Western sanctions against Myanmar had been "highly counterproductive" and needed an urgent overhaul.

Mekong Tourism Forum 2011 is open for registration

By Reinhard Hohler

In today's competitive global tourism industry, in order to attract visitors who in turn can become brand ambassadors, a successful destination can be compared with an entertainment star. In order for a destination to truly become a star, crucial components starting from investment, infrastructure, product development, service, and ending with marketing must be working in harmony. If even one of these key components is missing, it is difficult or even impossible - especially for an emerging destination such as the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) - to sustain itself in today's global tourism landscape.

The GMS has a unique and tremendous opportunity to offer visitors something not found anywhere else in the world and to leverage its exciting, multi-country itineraries. It's time to position the "Mekong" as Asia's premier travel destination.

A new addition to the Mekong Tourism Forum 2011, which will be held in Pakse/Lao PDR on May 27-28, is the 15 Minutes of Fame Presentations and the GMS New Product Innovation Awards. Six new travel product concepts - one from each of the Mekong countries of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam - will present how their ventures and services contribute to attracting tourists from around the world and help to establish the Mekong region as a true tourism star.

For further information and early registration, please go to:

Chiang Saen Mekong River International Triathlon 2011

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in partnership with the Chiang Saen District Office and the Triathlon Association of Thailand are jointly hosting the Chiang Saen Mekong River International Triathlon 2011 competition March 25-27, 2011 to promote sports tourism and foster closer relations among the six member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion.

The Chiang Saen Mekong River International Triathlon 2011 will feature the following contest categories – the Dualthon Asian Championships 2011 (bike and run), the Aquathlon Asian Championships 2011 (swim and run) on March 25, the Buddy Bike Ride and Run Challenge, and the Triathlon Asian Cup on March 27.

In addition to the sports events, there is greater focus on tourism and leisure activities in the programme. This presents an opportunity for participants to spend more time exploring the local attractions and experiencing the local culture.

Various tourism activities planned for March 26 include an elephant ride around the ancient city of Chiang Saen, a visit to the amulet market, and shopping along Chiang Saen's walking street and a grand evening event being jointly hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Chiang Saen District Office by the Mekong River in the district of Chiang Saen. The evening's highlights and entertainment activities will include traditional Lanna or Northern Thai cultural performances, a spectacular light-and-sound multi-media presentation projected onto a water screen and depicting a historical re-enactment of the legend of the Lanna Thai kings of this ancient Northern kingdom, traditional fireworks and a procession of majestic ‘fire boats’ or ruea fai drifting down the river against the dark of night. These illuminated boats are of various shape and forms and depict mythical characters from ancient myth and folklore.

With the consecutive success of the past regional triathlons held in each of Thailand’s gateway cities bordering the Mekong River, the Mekong River Triathlon is attracting participants from countries around Asia and has been designated an annual international sports event and receives recognition and support from the Asian Triathlon Confederation (ASTC).

To offer participants and spectators a change of scenery and an opportunity to see more of the Thai kingdom, the Triathlon Association of Thailand and the organizers believe that it is beneficial for the gateway cities along the length of the Mekong River in Thailand to take turns in hosting the event in rotation. The Mekong River International Triathlon Asian Cup Series and multi-sports Asian Cup Championships were held in Nakhon Phanom in 2005, in Mukdahan in 2006 and 2007, in the northern city of Chiang Rai in 2008, and in the town of Nong Khai, the host venue of the Mekong River International Multi-Sport ITU Asian Cup competition in 2009 and 2010.

With the Mekong River being the twelfth longest river in the world flowing through the six countries of Southeast Asia as it makes its way to the sea, increasing tourism investment is being made in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). The region as a whole is experiencing rapid growth and the regional gateways continue to grow in significance. The hosting of an annual international triathlon and multi-sports event reflects an attempt to develop provincial tourism capabilities so Thailand’s gateway cities bordering the Mekong River can effectively serve as a regional tourism hub and gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Additionally, with the growing trend in a healthy lifestyle and the increasing popularity of international sports events, an added benefit of which is the opportunity to travel to and experience new destinations and cultures in the process, the organizers are confident that sports for health as a theme will extend the scope of the tourism promotion efforts.

Through the Triathlon, Thailand’s gateway cities along the Mekong River hope to attract new audiences such as sports enthusiasts and their families, the media, spectators and tourists.
Domestically, it is hoped that the international sports event will generate increased interest in sports among the general public, particularly youth, and also establish spectator sport as a leisure activity. (TAT)

Amari Rincome slated for major redevelopment

The 42 year old Amari will be closed April 30, 2011.

Thailand-based ONYX Hospitality Group has announced that Amari Rincome Chiang Mai will close its doors on 30 April 2011 to facilitate an exciting new urban development project.

The 42-year old Amari Rincome is set within an expansive 1.8 hectares of land and situated along Nimmanhaeminda Road, an area in central Chiang Mai which has, in recent years, seen an emergence of chic and trendy retail spaces.

The current hotel site will be integrated into a larger redevelopment project which will include a vibrant lifestyle community mall featuring a landscaped plaza, retail areas, cinemas and restaurants.

A new, smaller Amari hotel will also be introduced when the project is completed in approximately 18 months’ time. The 85-room property will feature a fresh, modern perspective to complement the lively contemporary retail surroundings, with facilities including an all-day dining restaurant, meeting room and gymnasium.

“As the first international hotel in the early days of Chiang Mai’s international tourism growth, Amari Rincome has been an integral part of the local community for over 40 years,’’ said ONYX CEO Peter Henley.

‘’It is with sadness that we announce the end of this particular era for Amari Rincome. I would like to personally acknowledge the hard work and loyalty of all the staff who have all contributed to the hotel’s success over the years,’’ Henley added.

‘’We look forward with great anticipation to launching the all-new Amari hotel which will play an equally important role in the Chiang Mai community and in the continued growth of tourism of the area in the years ahead.’’ (PR)

Single visa system for Asean?

By Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is planning to adopt a single visa system enabling tourists to visit any of the group’s 10 member states on a single travel document. Following the lead of Europe’s "Schengen" single visa system, Jakarta-based ASEAN believes that a single tourist visa policy would enhance the tourism experience in the region, boosting arrivals to member states. “The plan is realistic, action oriented, attuned to the global realities and designed to ensure that the ASEAN region can continue to be a successful tourism destination,” said Dr. Thong Khon, Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism at the recent ASEAN ministerial meeting, held in Phnom Penh.

Earlier this year, the group released its ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015. The plan is expected to promote the region as a single tourist destination, develop a set of ASEAN tourism standards with a single certification process, enable tourism employees to work in any ASEAN country, and create a single tourist visa policy. This final intention was confirmed this week by Eddy Krisneidi, an official at the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat. The strategy also gained strong support from the so-called ‘Plus 3’ countries - China, Japan and South Korea.

ASEAN is also moving towards the implementation of an open skies aviation policy, which is scheduled to come into force in 2015. A unified ASEAN aviation market means that airlines would be able to fly freely over the region, transporting passengers between member states without limits imposed by individual governments in terms of routes, frequencies, airlines or aircraft types.

In tandem, the single tourist visa and open skies aviation policy would have the potential to greatly improve the region’s appeal as a tourist destination, offering the opportunity to significantly increase tourist arrival numbers from the 65 million achieved in 2010.

The plans have some obstacles to overcome before being implemented however, not least the inclusion of Myanmar, and local cross-border disputes, including the situation between Cambodia and Thailand.

Poi Sang Long Ceremony in Mae Hong Son

Young boys are beautifully dressed and painted for the ordination ceremony.

Mae Hong Son will hold the 4 day Poi Sang Long ceremony from April 4 to 7 at Wat Pang Lor. The first day of the ceremony, Wednesday, 4th April will see the boys have their heads shaved by parents and relatives. Then, they are bathed and anointed with special water and dressed up elegantly and colorfully while their faces are beautifully painted and decorated. By this time, the boys are known locally as 'Sang Long' or 'Look Kaew' (jewel sons). The parade moves around Mae Hong Son Municipal, visiting temples to beg forgiveness from abbots and the city pillar at the beginning of the journey. By late afternoon, the boys are carried back to their homes.

The third day, Friday, 6th April,, a grand colorful procession is held, filled with family members and important components of Mae Hong Son’s Shan community. In the parade, there are handmade floats, offerings for the temple, traditional dance and, of course, the boys themselves. The parade begins at Pang Lor Temple, in the city, before it moves down the main streets of town and out to the temples. The procession proceeds through the town on the fourth and final day and the boys are taken to Pang Lor Temple for the formal ordination ceremony.

This year, apart from the Poi Sang Long ceremony at Pang Lor Temple in Mae Hong Son Municipal, tourists can join Poi Sang Long ceremonies at Nai Soi Temple, Muang district from 6th - 10th April 2011. For more information contact Pang Moo Sub-district Organization Administration at Tel. 053-613341.

Sri Boon Rueng temple, Mae Sarieng district from 1st – 3rd April 2011. For more information contact Sri Boon Rueng Temple at Tel. 053-621328, 081-8853312. Muai Tor temple, Khun Yuam district from 26th – 28th March 2011. For more information contact Muai Tor Temple at Tel. 053-691081. Sri Donchai temple, Pai district from 1st – 3rd March 2011. For more information contact Wiang Nua Sub-district Organization Administration at Tel. 053-699543.

The Poi Sang Long ceremony in Mae Hong Son is a Buddhist novice ordination ceremony, but unlike any other ceremony of its type in the country. Young boys aged between 7 and 14 are ordained as novices to learn the Buddhist doctrines. It's believed that they will gain merit ordaining for their parents. The origins of this festival lie in Buddhist legend. It is believed that the tradition is probably following in the footsteps of Prince Rahula, the Buddha's own son, who gave up his worldly life to follow his father's spiritual teachings. Prince Rahula became the youngest ordained monk and the first novice in Buddhism. Subsequently it became a tradition that young boys should ordain to learn Buddhist teachings. With such high reverence to the Buddhist religion, the people here consider that the celebrations should be as grand as possible.

This colorful festival is one of the most delightful in Mae Hong Son, attracting people from far and wide. The local authorities and the Tourism Authority of Thailand consider this festival to be unique to Mae Hong Son province. For more information please contact at 053-612982 or at (PR)


European tourists to Thailand

Europe has long been a major source market for the Thai tourism industry. Of the 15.84 million international visitor arrivals to Thailand in 2010, a total of 4,341,447 arrivals were from Europe, a market share of 27.41% and an increase of 6.93% over 2009. Although, there was a decline in the second and third quarters of 2010 due to the internal political unrest, the air-traffic disruption in Europe caused by the Iceland volcanic eruption and the economic crisis in Southern Europe, the number of visitors rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Arrivals from Germany, the second top performer from Europe, were up by 6.83% to 612,620 in 2010. In January–September 2010, their average length of stay was 15.56 days with an average daily expenditure of US$101.45 per person. German visitors generated US$669.66 million in tourism receipts, and 92% of German visitors were independent travellers.

The United Kingdom now the top generator of arrivals from Europe, was down by 2.75% to 818,303 in 2010. In January–September 2010, 94.34% of UK visitors were independent travellers. Average daily spending was US$108.37 per person and the average length of stay was 16.40 days, generating US$977.70 million in tourism receipts.

Russia is showing great promise. It is the third biggest source of visitor arrivals from Europe, having overtaken France. Russian visitor arrivals totalled 611,019, up 81.33% over 2009. Visitors from Russia to Thailand have been growing steadily over the past few years due to the increasing number of charter flights to Thailand. In January–September 2010, the average length of stay was 12.48 days and average daily spending was US$122.14, generating US$564.68 million in tourism receipts. 56% were FITs.

France is the fourth largest source market from Europe. Arrivals in 2010 were up by 7.31% to 458,292. In January–September 2010, the average length of stay was 15.29 days, average daily spending was US$102.39 per person, generating tourism receipts of US$499.70 million. 90% were FITs.

Arrivals from Sweden, the fifth largest generator of visitor arrivals from Europe, were down by 9.81% to 316,406. In January–September 2010, Sweden had the highest average length of stay 18.60 days, and average daily expenditure was US$102.58 per person, generating tourism receipts of US$432.15 million. 93% were FITs.

Visitors from some of the smaller markets showed good growth; such as, Switzerland (+4.55%), East Europe (13.58%) and Norway (2.45%). Some European markets reported a decline; such as, Spain, Ireland and Finland which were down 6.16%, 10.25% and15.69%, respectively, largely due to their domestic economic problems. (TAT)