UN says Thailand has world’s third highest tourism revenues

As Bangkok was named the most visited city in the world for the second straight year by MasterCard, the United Nations World Tourism Organization said Thailand’s revenues from tourism are now the third highest in the world at $49.9 billion since the start of 2016, as arrivals to the Kingdom continued to soar with over 3 million visitors during August, the fourth month this year arrivals exceeded 3 million.

The continuing allure of Thai attractions and the strength of Thailand’s tourism sector were evident in the number of arrivals despite the rise of the Thai currency, the baht, which makes visiting more expensive for international guests. Although other Asian currencies have also increased in value against the U.S. dollar this year, the baht has led the pack, gaining more ground than the others.

The United States and Spain topped the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) list of top tourism earners with $205.9 billion and $60.3 billion in revenues, respectively, during the same time frame. Following Thailand on the list were China, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong and Australia.

Tourism is an essential part of the Thai economy, accounting for roughly 10 percent of gross domestic product. More than 4.2 million Thais are employed directly in the tourism industry, and tourism indirectly generates many more jobs and revenues. During a slowdown in Thai exports a few years ago because of weak economies in some trading partners, tourism kept Thailand’s economic growth in positive territory.

The Thai capital of Bangkok is a must-see for any visitor to the Kingdom, and Bangkok edged out London in MasterCard’s forecast for which city will host the most international visitors in 2017. The City of Angels is expected to receive 20.2 million visitors compared to 20 million for London. Paris came in third with 16.1 million international visitors forecast. Bangkok received 19.41 million visitors in 2016 when it also took the top spot on the MasterCard list.

The MasterCard list looks at visitor numbers and spending by visitors. In spending, Dubai led the list, reeling in $28.5 billion for a substantial lead over second-place New York City with $17 billion.

“Tourism within cities – like Bangkok, London, Dubai, Tokyo – is vital to economic growth. Visitors are spending money on lodging, food, shopping, and more, helping these cities grow as destinations and modern metropolises,”said Carlos Menendez, President of Enterprise Partnerships at MasterCard.