BANGKOK, 31 January 2017: Kasikorn Research Centre estimates international travel to Thailand could reach 33.50 to 34.15 million trips this year.
The bank analysis said inbound tourism would continue to grow, this year, in a positive manner despite the threat of natural disasters and the clampdown on zero-dollar tours.
The clampdown on illegal tour companies that operate below cost tours, but earn enormous commissions from tourists will slow arrivals from China.
However, the consensus is that the business model adopted by zero-dollar tour companies will continue to be a negative and a long-term crackdown will impact on tourist arrivals. There are compelling reasons for the crackdown from the government’s point of view. The tours bring no tax revenue to the country and they are a burden for SMEs in tourism that have to pay massive commissions to draw Chinese visitors.
“However, accelerating troubleshooting and understanding the business practices of Chinese tour operators will ultimately create market stability…the crackdown policy will help to create a better business model and give the industry more quality,” the bank stated.
“Other positive factors include public and private marketing strategies to boost tourism as well as an increase airline services to Thailand… particularly low-cost carriers will help to encourage more foreign tourists to visit Thailand,” the centre said.
“ASEAN markets will grow this year as the government plans to develop regional tourism… there is room for growth in Europe particularly main markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and France while there are sign this year that Russia will rebound.”
The Middle East is another market to that will grow, the bank stated.
The bank estimates the country will receive 33.50 to 34.15 million trips up 2.8% to 4.8%, which is a slower growth rate than 8.9% recorded in 2016.
The tourism should generate THB1.76 to THB1.79 trillion in related revenue improving 7.3% to 9.1% this year, it added.
According to Ministry of Tourism and Sports data, the country attracted 32,588,303 international visits, last year, compared to 29,923,185 in 2015.
Overall tourism revenue reached THB2.51 trillion, last year, increasing 10.93% and exceeding the target of THB2.4 trillion.
Of that, THB1.64 trillion came from international markets and THB870 billion from the domestic market.
The centre added that this year the government plans to push Thailand as a tourism hub of ASEAN and create new tourism products to spread revenue to other industries besides direct businesses in tourism sector.
Industry observers are mentioning the need to manage tourism flows from now on rather than chase a growth in just tourist arrivals.
However, there are negative factors that could impact on the tourism industry such as a decline in the global economy, the foreign exchange rate value in Thailand main source markets such as the UK and Europe, competition from other destinations and a change of tourist behaviour.
Kasikorn Research Centre is a subsidiary company of Kasikorn Bank, which conducts tourism and business research mainly on Thailand’s economy including tourism with reliable recommendations and indicators on business prospects.