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Thailand’s tourism numbers continue to soar




The tourists keep arriving, the numbers keep soaring. Assuming the numbers have to plateau at some stage, when will that be?

For the past 20 years, through floods, bombings, coups, political upheavals and a few unsolved, mystery murders, Thailand’s tourist arrival numbers just keep rising and rising, heading into unfamiliar territory. So many people have predicted doom and gloom – “the good days are over” – but still the tourists continue to flock to the Land of Smiles.

Once known to the world as the Land of a Thousand Smiles Thailand’s probably more accurately known these days as the Land of a Thousand 7/11s. If you were going to start a successful business in Phuket in 2017 you’d either open a convenience store or a rubber shop and do a deal with the tour buses. A story in has all the numbers….

China continues to dominate Thailand’s inbound tourist arrivals with August ending up with 3,133,411 visits, up 8.6% year-on-year. August was the fourth month, this year, that saw arrivals exceed 3 million, the second highest after January when visits reached 3,197,053.

Other peak travel months when visits exceeded 3 million were March and July.

So where did tourists come from in August?

• China, 982,212 +10.30%

• Malaysia, 277,606 +9.52%

• South Korea, 164,001 +16.52%

• Japan, 162,703 +5.03%

• Laos,158,377 +4.18%

• India, 116,376 +14.77%

• Hong Kong, 93,136 +8.88%

• Vietnam, 90,502 +9.17%

• Cambodia, 82,776 +20.84%

• Singapore, 81,366 + 21.2%.

Most Asian nations have seen their currencies strengthen against the US dollar and they are the main source for Thailand’s tourist arrivals. January to August revenue reached an estimated 1.19 trillion THB, an increase of 7.47% over the same period last year. Tourism earnings represent 12% of Thailand’s total GDP.

August figures, and those for the eight months so far, show China dominates Thailand’s travel supply chain. If there was ever a blip in that pattern it would drive the tourism industry to hit the panic button, as it did during last year’s crackdown on zero-dollar tours.

In 2016 Thailand registered 32.6 million visits. Based on the current performance tourism officials are confident visits will exceed 35 million by the end of the 2017.



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1 Comment

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    Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 3:41 am

    I’ve been here for 8 years now. I’ve watched how, in the last 3 years, being a real world-class tourist destination is no longer a priority in Phuket.

    In spite of all the rosy tourist projects and percentages, high season now runs from mid December to mid January. It use to be from November through Songkran in April.

    The life guard situation is shameful. Phuket has also done many things to discourage tourism such as the elimination of beach chairs & umbrellas, beach side markets, shops, bars, and restaurants. While, at the same time, Phuket allows many uncontrolled anti-tourism conditions to exist such as tuk-tuk mafia, dangerous driving habits, dangerous uncontrolled roads (Patong Hill), jet-skis and parasailing.

    Like any business, Phuket must reinvest in things free spending tourist desire. Phuket chooses not to do so. Maybe, it’s on orders from Bangkok. Maybe, their hands are tied. But, the failure to reinvested in the money making tourist industry has caused a huge decline in business. High season, business wise, is now December -January. A few years ago it was November-April.

    I love Thailand. The people, weather, food, scents, experiences. But, it’s painful to see the tourism decline with the resulting loss of income to the Thai working class.

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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