Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed that Thailand saw more international visitors than ever before in 2019. Their projections for the year ahead are also cause for celebration, as the Thai tourism industry gears up for another bumper year in 2020.
According to TAT, Thailand is set to make an estimated 3.18 trillion baht (US$105 billion) in overall tourism revenue in 2020, with more than 2 trillion baht coming from international tourists. The numbers, which are on course to smash the previous revenue records, are in line with a 4% year-on-year increase, and follow hot on the heels of a record-breaking 2019 for the Land of Smiles.
Thailand waved goodbye to 2019 by breaking its own record for international tourist arrivals, as the Christmas peak season carried their annual total higher than ever before. On 27th December, the nation officially welcomed international visitor number 39,000,000.
The lucky passenger that broke the record was Devanshi Deepak Kesaria, who was greeted by senior officials from Thailand’s tourism industry and presented with a ‘Luckiest Visitor’ jacket, a certificate, complimentary round-trip economy air tickets valid for a year, and a five-night accommodation voucher. She was then transferred to her hotel in Bangkok in a luxury airport limousine, provided by Thai Airways.
TAT started the ‘Luckiest Visitor’ project in 2015 to welcome Thailand’s 13 millionth tourist, and has continued it each year since. Now, just four years later, annual international arrivals in the Land of Smiles have broadened to almost 40 million.
“Thailand remains the preferred destination among world travellers and has once again achieved a new record high number of arrivals this year,” said Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor for marketing communications at TAT.
According to Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry, International arrivals rose by 5.92% in November 2019 and a massive 12.51% in October, compared to the same months the previous year. November’s mini-boom saw visitors spend THB 167 billion (USD 5.54 billion) during their stay, which was a 2.98% increase on 2018’s receipts. Foreign tourist receipts account for about 12% of Thailand’s GDP.
The latest stats also gave an impression of where Thailand’s key demographics come from. Visitors from China, which are Thailand’s biggest source market, rose collectively by a huge 18.33% in November 2019 compared to the previous year, while October saw an even bigger surge, with 27.81% more Chinese arrivals than in 2018. Tourists from other ASEAN members, numbering 9.5 million in total, were up from 9 million in 2018, showing a 4.7% increase.
TAT also projects a growth in demand from international markets in 2020, with ASEAN neighbours expected to be joined by greater numbers of travellers from Eastern Europe, Israel and the US. According to the latest figures, arrivals from Japan, Hong Kong, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and Latin America are also expected to grow.
“TAT’s target for 2020 is based on several favourable factors, ranging from the government’s stimulus measures, TAT’s focused marketing strategies and promotions of emerging destinations, new air routes, and the positive outlook of international tourists to Thailand from key source markets,” said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
“TAT is preparing to overcome several challenges, including the effect from the China-US trade war, the rise in consumption tax in Japan, and Brexit. The strong Thai baht, Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, World Expo 2020 Dubai and stimulus visa schemes from country competitors have also been taken into consideration when laying out our tourism marketing strategies,” added the governor.
Even by the most conservative of estimates, 2020 looks set to be another record-breaking year for Thailand, as the nation’s popularity as an international tourism destination continues to grow.