Tourist arrivals up nearly 30 percent, surpassing target

TF-5Thailand’s tourism sector is enjoying a healthy rebound over last year with tourist arrivals up nearly 30 percent year on year during the first half of 2015, and tourism officials are predicting that the Kingdom will exceed their target of 28.8 million arrivals for the year.

The new figures are a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economy as Thailand, similar to many other countries in the region, has been experiencing slower-than-usual growth.  Most regional economies are export driven, and as China’s economy has cooled and its appetite for other countries’ exports fallen, weaknesses in other markets such as Europe and Japan failed to make up the difference in demand, resulting in lower growth in many countries.

The figures also demonstrate the resilience of Thailand’s tourism sector and its enduring appeal to travelers from all parts of the world. Despite political turbulence in early 2014 that caused many potential visitors to choose other destinations, the return of political stability has convinced tourists to return to the Kingdom in numbers that are forecast to set a new record.

Thai tourism officials had set a target of 28.8 million arrivals in 2015, but a government spokesman said last week that they now expect between 29 and 30 million visitors, more than in any previous year.

Americans are expected to form a significant portion of those visitors, with 1.2 million predicted to visit the Kingdom despite the great physical distance and long traveling time between the two nations. The recent weakening of the Thai currency, the baht, should make Thailand an even more affordable and attractive choice for travelers. Thailand was already considered one of the best value-for-money destinations by travel industry experts.

Through the first seven months of this year, Thailand welcomed 17.5 million tourists who spent an estimated $23 billion. For the year, the government believes tourism revenues will reach between $45 billion and $50 billion, exceeding its earlier forecast of $39 billion. Tourism revenues account for approximately 10 percent of gross domestic product and are a major source of foreign exchange.

Tourists from China made up the largest group of visitors during the first half of 2015, with over 4 million arrivals, an increase of over 111 percent compared to the same period last year. Malaysian visitors increased by nearly 58 percent, while visitors from Singapore increased by over 36 percent, South Korea nearly 20 percent and Japan by nearly 17 percent. Arrivals from the U.S. were up 12.2 percent.




Thailand Focus August 17, 2015

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