TAT: 400,000 tourist in 2021, 18 million in 2022 worth 1 trillion

PHOTO: The TAT predicts 18 million travellers next year. (via PR Phuket)

The November 1 reopening of Thailand has received mixed results, with Pattaya reportedly seeing the vast majority of arrivals being expats coming home, and Hua Hin welcoming less than 100 of the 100,000 predicted tourists. But, as always, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has nothing but rosy predictions for the boom that will start any minute, with TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying yesterday that he expects 1 trillion baht of tourism revenue next year from 18 million international tourists.

The Governor pointed out that the reopening started with about 2,000 arrivals per day, but has now increased to 3,000 to 4,000 a day. (2019 figures would average to about 109,000 people per day.) He said the relative increase in arrivals is already an improvement over the original Phuket Sandbox reopening.

Yuthasak also defended the Test & Go scheme, explaining in comments to Thai business media that the scheme builds confidence in Thailand in the tourist community. Many, including the Chon Buri Tourism Council recently, have said that the programme is too complex and strict, forcing potential tourists to jump through too many hoops only to arrive to a holiday mired with restrictions and bans on entertainment and alcohol. Many are opting for easier destinations around the world, or even right next door in Cambodia.

The TAT Governor also talked about flights, saying that airlines were jumping to get back into Thailand, despite a recent report that 80% of flights slots were being dropped by foreign airlines. He said Emirates was planning on bringing their A380 airbuses to Thailand, with 500 tourists per flight. Also, other airlines were expressing interest in flying into more destinations, like Koh Samui and Krabi.

Tourist arrivals for November are expected to hit 100,000 and the TAT is predicting that the 4 months following that would see 300,000 international tourists per month. That would make 400,000 people this year, a bit more than half of the previous optimistic prediction of 700,000 tourists by the end of 2021, itself a revision of the 1 million people predicted just a month or two ago.

His predictions for the next few years were equally as hopeful and confident. The TAT expects a half trillion in domestic tourism revenue in addition to the 1 trillion generated by 18 million international tourists next month. (For fans of some Thai math humour: what’s the answer when you divide the total revenue predicted, by the number of tourists predicted? 55,555.)

In 2023 he predicts an 80% recovery to the levels before the Covid-19 pandemic, with 2.4 trillion baht in tourism revenue. And the next year the TAT sees a full recovery and 3 trillion baht in revenue.

But the TAT head doesn’t foresee a return of the 40 million travellers that came to Thailand in 2019, despite figures in his earlier prediction calculating to a need for 54 million travellers to earn that 3 trillion baht. Once again, the TAT is stressing that Thailand will not try to bring in any and all tourists with a desire to visit. Instead, they will focus their efforts on trying to lure wealthy, high-spending tourists to dump money into the economy.


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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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