Thai tourism will expand 10%

BANGKOK, 27 January 2017: Tourism associations estimate Thailand’s tourism industry will increase visits 10% this year end.

Presiding at the Association of Thai Travel Agents and Thai Hotels Association annual meeting, Wednesday, deputy prime minister, Thanasak Patimaprakorn, said last year the country welcomed 32.6 million international visits.

He claimed there were more ‘quality tourists’ in the year’s total than in the past as a result of government promotions.

inside no 1The crackdown of illegal tour operators and hotels would also help to drive quality tourism. He was referring to the policy to end zero-dollar tours from China that have no financial value for the country, but create considerable  stress on resources.

“The country needs to set strategies to shift tourists from crowded destinations and to develop new tourist attractions… we have to tighten safety and security.”

This year, Thailand will focus on specific tourism segments such as sports tourism, health and wellness, weddings and romance, marine and rail to boost tourism.

The government will also promote what is popularly called foodie tourism.

He has already proposed to the Thai Cabinet to approve a proposal by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to sign an agreement with Michelin Guide to award Michelin stars for excellence restaurants. It should be completed in three weeks.

The Michelin Guidebook Bangkok is expected to cover five years starting this year and will cost USD4.1 million to establish and operate, although  he did not elaborate on the cost breakdown.

“Once the project is approved, Thailand will be the second country in ASEAN, after Singapore, to join the Michelin Guidebook…it will help to increase tourist spending in the country.”

In addition, the government is likely to extend the free tourist visa concession for citizens of 19 nations that is due to end 28 February. It will be extended for another six months, the deputy PM added.

Most of the countries  listed are not major tourist providers, but the concession sends the right message to China, Taiwan, India and Saudi Arabia markets that have vast potential for growth.

The 19 nations eligible for the visa-fee waiver comprise of Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Under the scheme, citizens from the 19 countries do not need to pay the THB1,000 fee to process a visa at Thai embassies, or consular offices overseas. They still have to visit the consulates, which can be time consuming due to the long distances between the capital and other cities.

The visa-on-arrival fee, which was increased, 27 September, to THB2,000 was also reduced to THB1,000 for citizens of the 19 countries.

The visa-on-arrival is valid for just 15 days.

inside no 1.1ATTA president, Charoen Wangananont said: “This year, tourism should grow around 9% to 10% mainly on the back of strong markets in Asia.”

He added: “ASEAN market will be crucial for us this year and that will encourage more air connectivity between destinations.”

Thai Hotels Association president, Supawan Tanomkieatipum, said it was vital to convince tour operators to use legal hotels to end negative practices.

Last year, overall hotel occupancy stood at 64.48% up 3.23% from 62.46%. This year, the association expects occupancy to close at 70%, she said.

This year, the country projects 35 million foreign travellers. Tourism-related revenue will reach THB2.71 trillion. Of that, THB1.78 trillion will come from foreign visitors and THB930 billion from domestic travellers.

In 2016, the country attracted 32,588,303 international visits improving 8.91% compared to 29,923,185 in 2015.

Last year, overall tourism revenue reached THB2.51 trillion 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. They are revenue estimates based on exit surveys to determine an average spend per tourist, but are not considered accurate.


  1. Nobody has ever told the truth about Thai tourism arrivals and until an independent audited source is employed we will never be able to believe a word from the ministry or the airheads at TAT. But the worst reality is the infrastructure already cannot cope with arguably half the arrivals claimed, so what gridlock awaits at Suvarnabhumi and Phuket with another 10 per cent added?
    The only way to make tourism prosper is for professionals to run TAT and an end to stupid appointments at the ministry. I will not hold my breath!

  2. this is clearly wishful thinking. with the 40% drop of the so called zero dollar Chinese tourists, how would this be possible.

    it will require 5 million tourists to make up that loss of zero dollar tourists and another 5 million for the 10% expansion.

    how can you get close to 10 million tourists in 2017? from china again?

    • Could you clarify the source that says there were 5 million zero-dollar visits? There could well be but I have not seen the data to confirm that assessment. I believe the 10% increase as mentioned in the report was on 10 million overall visits recorded in 2016 would mean this year the arrivals from China will reach 11 million. There were early assessments that claimed Thailand would clock 11.4 million visits from Thailand in 2016. The 10 million were visits not tourists.

      • Since the clampdown was introduced in sept, it actually took effect in oct, in the last 3 months of 2016.

        The claimed 11.4 million turned out 10 million, ie short of 1.4 million due to clampdown.

        Then you can assume safely there were 3×1.4=4.2 million zero dollar arrivals|visits|tourists whatever you call it.

        And you get 10-4.2 = 5.8 million that you can call non-zero. the grand total including all countries is 32 – 4.2 = 27.8 million

        make sense?

      • According to Chinese published stats there were 1440K visits to Thailand from China in the last quarter of 2016. 1440Kx4=5760K ie 5.76 million, very close the estimation below.

        Without zero dollars, you are looking at around 5.8 million possible visits from china in 2017.

        This will bring down the total international visits. About 10 million visits or more will be required to achieve 10% growth in 2017 over 2016. This is essentially impossible.

  3. the government is considering to extend the free visa concession for tourists from 19 nations that is due to end 28 February. It will be extended for another six months, the deputy PM added

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