Thailand is poised to achieve its target of welcoming 28 million foreign tourists in 2023, with a notable increase in visitors from neighboring Malaysia compensating for a sluggish recovery in the Chinese market, which was the primary source of inbound travellers before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Year-to-date, total arrivals have surpassed 25 million, with the number of Malaysian travellers more than doubling compared to last year, reaching four million, as reported by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Although approximately 3.1 million Chinese holidaymakers have visited Thailand this year, securing the second position and demonstrating growth from 273,567 in 2022, this year’s figure is anticipated to fall short of the official target of four million to 4.4 million, according to available data.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand envisions a continued recovery with 35 million visitors expected next year, including 8.2 million from China.
However, achieving this target appears ambitious in light of this year’s disappointing Chinese tourist numbers, as noted by Krungsri Securities. Instead, total tourist arrivals are projected to reach 33 million in 2024, attributed to a slower increase in Chinese visitors amid economic challenges in their home country, according to analyst Sirilak Konwai’s report.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is banking on tourism to drive the nation’s economic growth, given that the sector contributes about 12 per cent to the gross domestic product and nearly a fifth of the jobs. The government has implemented temporary visa waivers for travellers from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, India, and Taiwan. Additionally, airlines have been instructed to expand routes and airport operations have been streamlined to reduce waiting times for visitors.
In 2019, the country witnessed a record influx of foreign arrivals, reaching almost 40 million, generating 1.91 trillion baht (S$72.9 billion) in revenue. During that year, each tourist spent an average of 47,895 baht during their nine-day trip, according to official data. This year, Thailand has generated 1.07 trillion baht from tourism.