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[ 2019-02-04 ]

Thailand Tourism: As Chinese visitors bounce back, Thai tourism income crosses B2trn

As Chinese visitors bounce back, Thai tourism income crosses B2trn 

Thailand tourism closed 2018 with a total of 38.27 million arrivals, thanks to a sharp resurgence in Chinese visitor arrivals in December.   This has generated over B2 trillion in tourism expenditures, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports final arrival counts just released showed that Chinese visitors in December were 838,634, a jump from 675,129 in November.   This closed the year with a total of 10,535,955 visitors from China, up 7.44% from 2017.

Expenditures from Chinese visitors also surged from B36.45 billion in November to December spending of B44.42bn, with the year ending of B580.69bn.

Thailand’s 2018 total international visitors were up by 7.54% over 2017.   Tourism revenue was estimated at B2.007trn, up by 9.63%.

Ten countries and one SAR territory, for the first time, generated more than 1 million visitor arrivals. These countries were China, Malaysia, South Korea, Lao PDR, Japan, India, Russia, USA, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong SAR.

Summary of the key results in 2018:

Overview: All regions grew well except the Middle East and Oceania. Visitors from East Asia totalled 26.06mn (+9.30%), Europe 6.76mn (+3.86%), the Americas 1.60mn (+3.82%), South Asia 1.98mn (+11.82%), Oceania 922,520 (-1.74%), the Middle East 739,494 (-6.39%), and Africa 201,519 (+7.63%).

East Asia: East Asian visitor arrivals comprised the biggest market share of all visitors. A total of 26.06mn were from East Asian countries. Apart from China (10.53mn), the other top sources of arrivals were Malaysia (4.09mn), South Korea (1.79mn), Lao PDR. (1.75mn) Japan (1.65mn), Singapore (1.06mn), Vietnam (1.02mn) and Hong Kong SAR (1.01mn).

The 10 ASEAN countries generated over 10.28mn arrivals, with growth by Malaysia (+17.26%), Philippines (+13.46%), Indonesia (+11.79%), Vietnam (+9.86%), Cambodia (+4.89%), Lao PDR. (+4.08%), Singapore (+3.36%), Myanmar (+0.70%). Only Brunei showed a decline of 0.18%.

Europe: European visitors were up 3.86% to 6.76mn. Russia retained its status as the largest source market from Europe with arrivals of 1.47mn, up 9.40%. The United Kingdom was the second highest source market with a total of 987,456 followed by Germany 889,777, up 4.66%, and France 749,643, up 1.28%.

Visitors also grew from East Europe (+9.01%), Austria (+11.45%), the Netherlands (+6.25%), Italy (+5.91%), Denmark (+4.60%), Belgium (+1.81%), and Spain (+1.30%).

The Americas: Arrivals from the Americas grew by 3.82% to 1.60mn. The main market, the US, increased by 6.33% to 1,123,248. Arrivals from Canada were up 6.98% to 276,543. Arrivals from Brazil and Argentina declined by 15.47% and 30.09% to 66,087 and 44,049 visitors, respectively.

South Asia: Arrivals from South Asia grew by a strong 11.82% to 1.98mn. India topped the list with arrivals up by 12.83% to 1.59mn. Other countries also showed good growth; such as, Nepal (+27.27%), Bangladesh (+6.43%), Sri Lanka (+2.36%), and Pakistan (+3.79%).

Oceania: Arrivals from Oceania declined by 1.74% to 922,520 visitors. Australian visitors declined by 1.91% to 801,637. Arrivals from New Zealand declined by 0.96% to 116,835.

Middle East: Arrivals from the UAE declined by 6.52% to 128,271. Arrivals from Saudi Arabia declined by 15.50% to 28,334. However, some markets like Kuwait (+3.35%) reported good results.

Africa: Arrivals from Africa grew by 7.63% to 201,519, mainly due to arrivals from South Africa (102,713).

The Minister of Tourism and Sports Weeasak Kowsurat recently announced the results.   He noted that while this was extremely good news with record-breaking figures, this has offered Thailand the opportunity to refocus its future tourism development strategy.   Niche markets with high spending potential and emerging destinations should be pursued and developed.

Now that travel and tourism is well established as a major contributor to the national economy, it is important to strengthen its foundations to make it “convenient, clean, safe, unique and sustainable”, reduce income disparity, upgrade safety and security, and enhance personnel development.

A complete new set of challenges related to the long-range management of the tourism industry has been created by the growth of the visitor arrivals, the Minister noted.

Emerging destinations tourism promotion policy has been recently approved by the Cabinet with support measures such as: tax deductions for tourists, tax exemptions for companies organizing seminars in emerging destinations, and so on, the Minister stated.

With the uncertainty in the global geopolitical and economic conditions the future tourism scenario would remain highly competitive, said Minister Weerasak.   Although global trends were regularly being monitored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to take advantages of emerging opportunities, such as Indian markets and the ASEAN.  

The recently announced online visa system and other responsive measures would achieve a long-term goal of enhancing the visitors experience and establishing a strong flow of visitor arrivals.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is forecasting for 2019 a 41.1mon foreign tourists (+ 7.5%) generating an estimated B2.21trn in tourism revenue (+ 10%). This is based on a forecast of 11.69mn tourists from China (+11 %), 11.31mn tourists from the Asean countries (+ 10%), and 6.90mn visitors from Europe (+ 2%).