Thailand tourism growth momentum to continue through to the last quarter of 2016

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), with the unanimous agreement of some of the biggest players in the kingdom’s tourism industry, has expressed confidence that the growth momentum, recorded over the first nine months of the year, is set to continue into the final quarter of 2016. This means that Thailand will exceed this year’s targets for visitor numbers and looks set to generate over 2.58 trillion Baht (US$73.7 billion) from the tourism sector, up 14 per cent over 2015.

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “This positive outlook is based on the strong confidence that both tourists and the world’s most respected organisations; such as, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), have in Thailand as a safe and enjoyable destination. This faith in the country is a result of TAT’s tireless efforts in constantly communicating with visitors and industry players in times of calm and crisis and sending the message that tourist safety and security is always our priority. In addition, our strong and innovative marketing activities play a huge role in telling the world that Thailand is the perfect destination for a holiday, whether you’re seeking sun, scenery, spas, sports or adventure.”

This industry confidence is being expressed by participants at the second “Thai Travel Industry Media Conference” including the representatives from the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) and the Thai Hotels Association (THA) as well as Kasikorn Research Center (K-Research) – which is joining event for the first time. The Conference, now scheduled to meet every quarter, was first organised in June of this year with the aim of sharing information as well as exchanging ideas and coordinating strategies among key players in Thailand’s tourist industry. The joint media conference will act as an important platform from which the industry can keep people up to date with the latest developments and coordinate new joint strategies.

According to Mr. Yuthasak, in the first nine months of 2016, Thailand’s tourism industry is expected to generate a total of 1.88 trillion Baht (US$53.7 billion) for the Thai economy, representing a year-on-year increase of 14 per cent. Of the total, some 1.25 trillion Baht (US$35.7 billion, up 17 per cent) has been raised by 24.94 million inbound tourists (up 13 per cent) and another 629 billion Baht (US$18 billion, up 6 per cent) has come from domestic tourism with 111 million trips having been taken by locals (up 4 per cent on last year).

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn

Thanks to TAT’s aggressive international marketing campaigns, Thailand has continued to record impressive growth in the international tourist markets with Northeast Asia being the largest at 17 per cent, the Americas at 15 per cent, ASEAN, South Asia and Europe at 10 per cent each, the Middle East at 8 per cent, and Africa at 5 per cent each. The Oceania market recorded a 1.25 percent growth in the third quarter, bringing the overall performance up slightly, though there was a 0.7 per cent drop across the 9-month period.

Going forward, to the last quarter of 2016, TAT expects Thailand to generate 698 billion Baht (US$20 billion, up 16 per cent), comprising 468 billion Baht (US$13.4 billion, up 19 per cent) from 9.01 million tourists (up 15 per cent) and 230 billion Baht (US$6.6 billion, up 9 per cent) from domestic tourism with 42 million trips expected to be taken by locals (up 7 per cent) as the cooler weather arrives.

Other contributing factors to the growth prospects for the October to December period, 2016 include the fact that Thailand is entering the high season with forward bookings for air travels to Thailand already showing an 8 per cent increase. There are also new air links that have been established, including those from Russia (Moscow, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg), the Middle East (Tehran, Dubai and Doha), and Asia (Hong Kong, Mandalay, Luang Prabang and Vientiane). In addition, in the days either side of the National Day of the People’s Republic of China or Golden Week, as it is known, from 1 to 9 October, a total of 39 chartered flights with 7,594 seats have confirmed services to Bangkok and Phuket from nine cities in China.


Mr. Yuthasak concluded, “These figures show that recent events haven’t impacted the confidence people have in Thailand as a safe and welcoming place to visit. As always, the kingdom is seen as the ultimate exotic holiday destination and the travel hub of the region. This is why we’ve been chosen to host events; such as, the UNWTO World Tourism Day on 27 September, and the WTTC Global Summit in April 2017, proof indeed that when it comes to travel and tourism, Thailand is as influential and as amazing as ever”.

The TAT’s statement of confidence is shared by representatives from the TCT, ATTA, THA and K-Research, and their independent statistics confirm growth in the first nine months of 2016 with several contributing factors signaling that this growth is set to continue in the final quarter of the year. TCT’s tourist confidence index which stood at 98 in the third quarter is expected rise to 102 in the fourth quarter (the normal index is around 100) while ATTA, which handles one sixth of the total tourist arrivals to Thailand is expecting to welcome 6.3 million tourists this year, up from 5.12 million last year. They have cited that Thailand continues to enjoy growth as the kingdom is seen as being resilient and a secure destination, despite recent domestic incidents and other global issues. The links between the public and private sectors when it comes to assisting tourist and the expertise in crisis management are seen as strong factors in the confidence tourists have in Thailand that they will be safe and secure during their stay.