Thailand‘s Ministry of Tourism and Sports set a sky-high target of 80 million international tourists in the kingdom by 2027. The target exceeds Thailand’s current total population of 69 million.
To frame the ambitious figure, pre-pandemic Thailand welcomed an average of 40 million international tourists per year.
In 2022, Thailand welcomed 11.5 million international arrivals, exceeding the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s target of 10 million. Thailand’s top foreign tourism markets were Malaysia, India, Laos, Cambodia, and Singapore.
Tourism revenue would rise to 5 trillion baht if 80 million people packed their bags and holidayed in Thailand in 2027, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Racthakitprakarn.
In 2019, Thailand’s tourism industry generated 1.93 trillion in revenue, he added.
If Thailand really wants to double pre-pandemic tourism figures, then the kingdom needs to upgrade to tourism safety standards to accommodate the influx of visitors, said Pipat.
Tourists will pay for the upgrade themselves with the new 300 baht (US$12) ‘tourist tax‘ set to come into force on June 1 this year.
The entrance fee’s implementation was delayed and then delayed some more after the tourism industry struggled to bounce back from the pandemic. Thailand didn’t want the tax to put off potential tourists.
The fee will apply to all foreign passport holders arriving in Thailand. Foreigners entering the country using border passes, local public servants and valid work permit holders will be exempt from paying the tourist tax.
Final details about the 300 baht tourist tax will be decided at a meeting held by the National Tourism Policy Committee on January 24.
Thailand expects to attract 20 million foreign arrivals this year, almost double of last year but still, half of the pre-pandemic levels – a realistic target as travellers worldwide regain their confidence and book flights again.
If Thailand is serious about raising annual international arrivals to 80 million in the next five years, the ministry will have to concentrate on luring back the Chinese market and opening new markets.
In 2019, arrivals from China stood at 12 million, well over a quarter of all inbound travellers.
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