Tourism Authority of Thailand pushing for 150,000 Saudi tourists this year

Photo by Nation Thailand.

Thailand continues to set new tourism goals.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is now pushing for 150,000 Saudi tourists this year, according to Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT’s deputy governor of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. The improved diplomatic relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia have had a very positive impact on Thailand’s tourism sector, Siripakorn said.

There has been a significant increase in the number of Saudi visitors to the Land of Smiles over the years. In 2015, Thailand welcomed 25,153 Saudi tourists, while in 2016 and 2017, the numbers increased to 33,038 and 42,610 respectively.

Although there was a slight decrease in the number of visitors in 2018, it rose again in 2019 to 36,783. The year 2022 saw an incredible increase when the number climbed to 96,389. In the first three months of 2023, 21,388 Saudi tourists visited Thailand.

Given this upward trend, TAT has set a target of attracting 150,000 Saudi Arabian tourists this year, hoping that they will contribute up to 120 billion baht to the Thai economy. Siripakorn said…

“Saudi Arabian tourists usually enter Thailand as couples. They also stay in luxury hotels and have high spending capacity, averaging around 100,000 baht per person on their short trips. This is an opportunity for Thailand to attract more of these high-value tourists.”

Of all the Saudi tourists, 53% are first-time visitors, while 43% have visited Thailand before and returned for another visit, Siripakorn added.

Thailand has been looking to promote Muslim-friendly tourism. In a focus group discussion last month, the Department of Tourism and private sectors reviewed strategies to attract Muslim visitors. It was noted that Muslim tourists look for hotels and restaurants that serve halal food and provide facilities such as prayer rooms.

The Pattaya News reports that Pattaya has an expanding Muslim community and a diverse amount of Halal food. TAT says the city is an ideal fit for Saudi tourists, with its many natural attractions like islands and beaches as well as family attractions like water parks, gardens, and animal venues.

Back in January, Phuket was looking to entice more low-cost Saudi flights to the island province. The Phuket Tourist Association sent a delegation to meet with the low-cost Saudi airline Flynas on January 25. The association gave a presentation about why Phuket was an ideal destination for Flynas to schedule direct flights. The association reported that Flynas responded positively, and was looking to acquire further aircraft, and possibly begin direct flights in the middle of this year.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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