Courting LGBT market, TAT expects 40 million visitors in 2019

Tourists never seem to lose their taste for Thailand. As many as 40 million visitors are expected to arrive in the Kingdom next year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), representing a significant increase over the 37.5 million visitors forecast for this year.

That would be good news for the Thai economy, but would also place more demands on the TAT and the tourism industry to maintain the high standards and quality that have made Thailand a global tourism success story.

“Tourism contributes 18-19 percent to GDP (gross domestic product). The industry will continue to grow, and that is very challenging for TAT,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the TAT.

Many analysts estimate that tourism directly contributes about 10 percent to GDP, but tourism’s indirect contribution to GDP is higher. Taking into account indirect contributions, the minister said that tourism would generate over $68 billion in earning in 2019.

Appealing to niche markets has been one source of growth for tourism to Thailand in recent years. Adventure tourists, eco-tourists, and medical and wellness tourists are among the groups that have all been adding to the robust increase in visitors.

One group that has long held a favorable view towards Thailand has been the LGBT+ community. The tolerant and welcoming nature of the Thai people has made the Kingdom a preferred destination among members of that community, and in recognition of that, the TAT is now courting LGBT+ tourists.

“Thailand has quietly been pursuing this niche market segment, but it is only this year that the Tourism Authority of Thailand is openly coming out to target the pink dollar,” wrote TTG Asia, a travel industry publication and website.

At the end of June, the TAT hosted the first “LGBT+ Travel Symposium: Thailand” at the So Sofitel hotel in Bangkok. Fifty-five LGBT+ travel buyers and media from around the world attended the two-day event. They met with representatives from the Thai travel industry to exchange insights on best practices, marketing, and operations to reach the LGBT+ market worldwide.

“We are proud that LGBT+ travelers can stay anywhere in Thailand with complete peace of mind. Our kingdom is open to every possible shade under the rainbow,” said TAT Deputy Governor Srisuda Wanapinyosak, in a keynote address at the symposium.


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