Tourism is one of the most important sectors driving the Thai economy, which can continuously generate high income for Thailand. The number of international tourist arrivals to Thailand in 2018 reached 38.12 million people, up 7.1 percent YoY. Although the second half of 2018 has shown slow pace of international tourist arrivals due to the different factors from each nationality, the number recovered during the last 2 months of 2018 thanks to the tourist season and the Visa on Arrival fee waved for 21 countries. Hence, in 2018, Thailand received approximately THB 2.01 trillion in revenue from the arrival of international tourists.
Kasikorn Research Center expects the number of international tourists travelling to Thailand in 2019 to reach 39.00-39.80 million people, up 2.1-4.1 percent YoY and generate tourism receipt of approximately THB 2.16-2.20 trillion, up 6.9-8.9 percent YoY.
Trend of international tourist to Thailand
1. Tourist from East Asia region: Tourists travelling from ASEAN, South Korea and Japan to Thailand shows promising signs, while clear recovery of Chinese tourists is expected during the second half of this year. However, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Thailand still depends on the Chinese economy, the Yuan currency and the highly competitive tourism sector in Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.
2. Tourist from South Asia region: While the number of tourists from India shows promising growth, entrepreneurs in Thailand’s hospitality sector may face fierce competition as many other countries strive to attract Indian tourists to their countries as well.
3. Tourist from Europe region: Tourists from Germany and France will continue growing as well, while the growth of Russian tourists may depend on the Ruble currency. Meanwhile, Brexit may negatively impact inbound tourists travelling from U.K. to Thailand due to high expense and long flight duration.
4. Tourist from other regions: Middle East tourists will continue to decline due to a slowdown in the economy. Hence, they are choosing nearer destinations, with the exception of Israel tourists. Moreover, tourists travelling from the US and South Africa to Thailand will continue to see positive growth trend.
Tourism trend in Thailand
1. Target ASEAN tourists: As Thailand takes over the ASEAN chair for 2019, various opportunities are opened up for hospitality-related businesses to attract tourists from ASEAN countries. These include sales of tourism-related products and services and a chance to cooperate with neighboring countries to develop the best routes for international tourists, whether they are from ASEAN or other countries.
2. Increase popularity in secondary provinces: This will be attributed to the government’s policy to promote less visited areas and distribute revenues generated from tourism more evenly across the nation. This will increase marketing and investment opportunities for local business operators. However, business operators should also consider other factors such as the type of tourist to target, potential attractions and the readiness of transport infrastructures and facilities in each province.
3. Digitalizing tourist-related businesses: Technology will be increasingly integrated to uplift the infrastructure of businesses within the tourism industry. We see the rise of online platforms offering products and services that goes beyond hotel room bookings such as tour agent and car rental services. Sharing economy business model is also becoming more widespread. Hence, Thai operators need to be flexible in order to adapt to the changes in the hospitality landscape. This will allow them to grow alongside the booming tourism sector.