Tourist arrivals up 7 percent year on year, air traffic rising

Thailand’s allure continues to attract new visitors as tourist arrivals rose 7 percent year on year for the month of April, the month when Thais celebrate the New Year, as Airports of Thailand said last week that passenger traffic rose 8 percent during the first quarter of the year while its profits surged by 18 percent.

Tourism is a key component of the Thai economy and has proven to be an extremely effective tool in enhancing the Kingdom’s global reputation. Its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product has been estimated between 9 to 12 percent and 15 to19 percent directly and indirectly. The sector is responsible for about 6.5 million jobs, or 16 percent of all employment in Thailand.

Some industry analysts have raised concerns over the prospects for tourism in Thailand because more destinations, particularly in countries close to Thailand that had been considered too under-developed or even risky for most tourists, are now becoming more competitive and presenting a challenge to the Kingdom.

But the steady growth of tourism in Thailand, as evidenced by the recent statistics, shows that the Kingdom’s attractions and appeal are resilient and sustainable.  A total of 2.83 million foreign tourists arrived in Thailand during the month of April, and over 12 million visited the Kingdom during the first four months of this year, up 2.9 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

New tourists from new markets, and expansion of niche sectors such as medical tourism and eco-tourism have been helping to underpin healthy growth.

So have the rise of budget airlines and the expansion of air traffic in general. Airports of Thailand (AoT), which manages six of the largest airports in the Kingdom, said its strong results were due in part to a 15.1 percent rise in passenger traffic among budget airlines servicing Thailand.

Overall, AoT reported an 8 percent rise in passenger volume at its six airports during the first quarter of 2017. The six airports under AoT management are Suvarnabhumi and Don Muangin Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Chiang Rai, all of which are international gateways to the Kingdom.

The rise in passenger traffic contributed to a soaring 18 percent increase in net profit for the company during the first quarter of the year.  The firm made about $188 million during the quarter, up $28 million from the same quarter the previous year.