Thais becoming outbound tourists in greater numbers

Thailand welcomed nearly 40 million foreign visitors last year, but Thais are increasingly being welcomed abroad as about 11 million Thais are expected to vacation overseas this year taking advantage of the stronger Thai currency.

“Continued appreciation of the baht (Thailand’s currency) and more international direct flights at affordable prices are the key reasons behind booming outbound travel in recent years,” said Charoen Wangananont, vice-president of the Thai Travel Agents Association.

Ten years ago, just 4 million Thais traveled overseas on vacation. In 2018, that number reached 10.2 million, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. During the past five years, the number of Thais traveling overseas has risen between 7 percent and 8 percent every year.

If as expected 11 million Thais travel abroad that would represent an increase of 8.5 percent over last year. The ministry forecasts they will spend approximately $10.3 billion during their journeys. About 25 percent of them will avail themselves of tour groups organized by travel companies in Thailand.

Last year, neighboring Malaysia and Laos were the most popular destinations for Thais, but Japan was the most popular among countries not sharing a border with the Kingdom. The Land of the Rising Sun was followed by China and then several Eastern European countries.

Japan has been attracting more Thai tourists since 2013 when it waived visa requirements for Thais.  An expansion in the number of direct flights and cost-friendly packages have also helped spur travel to Japan.

The strong baht is also making it more affordable for Thais to travel abroad. The baht has appreciated by 4 percent against the dollar since the beginning of 2019.