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Thailand’s Economy Gets a Lift from Tourism Resurgence

Published: August 10, 2023 at 6:55 pm

thailand tourism recovery

Deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Traisaranakul recently highlighted that tourism generated a massive 1.1 trillion baht in revenue during the year’s initial seven months. This includes a substantial 638.2 billion baht from international tourists.

Despite the worldwide economic turbulence, over 15.32 million foreign tourists flocked to Thailand between January and July, marking a 384% surge compared to the same timeframe last year. While optimistic, the Tourism and Sports Ministry anticipates tourist numbers to reach around 25 million by year-end – a noticeable rise from recent years, but not quite reaching the pre-pandemic level of 39 million.

The countries sending the most visitors were Malaysia, China, South Korea, India, and Russia. Traisuree credits this tourist influx to the easing pandemic conditions and strategic government initiatives luring international visitors.

Concerning Trends with Chinese Tourists

Yet, not all signs are positive. The Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) recently revised its projections for Chinese tourists, lowering the expected number from 7 million to 5.6 million. According to Pisit Puapan of the FPO, this adjustment results from China’s slower-than-expected economic rebound. It has led the FPO to trim its annual economic growth forecast slightly.

The silver lining? The FPO still expects 29.5 million total visitors this year, with a boost from Malaysian tourists potentially offsetting the decline in visitors from China.

Visa Hiccups Remain a Concern

Another growing concern is the e-visa application system, which the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATT) finds increasingly cumbersome. The President of ATT, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, points out that the once swift visa approval process for Chinese tourists has now become tediously long, sometimes stretching to 30 days, causing logistical headaches for tour coordinators. He calls for a more streamlined process.

Other Economic Indicators

Meanwhile, Thailand’s domestic consumption is on an uptick. Thanks in part to spending by tourists, both local and foreign, Pisit of the FPO anticipates a 4.5% boost in private consumption this year. Falling inflation rates further invigorate consumer spending.

However, Thailand’s central bank has made successive rate hikes in the last year, reaching 2.25%, which has ratcheted up business borrowing costs. Furthermore, concerns loom regarding vulnerable demographics grappling with disproportionate debts.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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