Thailand arrivals grow 2.5%

BANGKOK, 28 March 2019: Thailand clocked more than 7 million visitor arrivals in the first two months of the year according to data posted on the Ministry of Tourism and Sports website late last week.

So far this year the ministry has not resumed its monthly “Tourism Situation” reports, but provisional data indicates the country registered 7,291,494 visits up 2.53% for January and February.

Tourism receipts registered THB387,701 million a marginal increase of 0.77% year-on-year, but the source or criteria used to reach financial assumptions based on tourist spend has not been adequately explained by the ministry.

It is understood the formulas for calculating tourism revenue could be based on random exit surveys outsourced to private research companies.

Visitor arrivals are based on an Immigration Bureau head count of travellers entering the country through land, sea and air border checkpoints regardless of the purpose of the visits.

China continues to be Thailand’s top source with 2,122,746 visits, but representing a decline of 2.20%, which continues a negative trend evident since July 2018.

Malaysia the second top market delivered 597,309 visits an increase of 10% year-on-year. Russia in third place registered 421,045 visits, but down 0.22% when compared with the first two months of 2018.

Fourth placed South Korea with 392,520 visits improved 9.71%, while the fifth largest source market Japan delivered 316,335 an increase of 9.71%.

At a glance, Thailand’s travel boom is heading for another record year of at least 40 million visits, but the latest data suggest there are declining performances in Europe (eight negative markets) enough for tourism officials to be uncomfortable.

With 1,715,199 visits from Europe in the first two months, arrivals slipped 0.99, a trend that has been showing up in European figures for some time.  Six European source markets reported improvements all with growth rates of less than 6%.  Spain looks like a promising market with a growth of 5.82, while despite concerns over Brexit, travel from UK market improved by 2.83%.

Two markets — Finland down 11% and Sweden down 7.84% — were always strong markets for Thailand’s southern destinations during Europe’s cold winter months.

No matter how you look at the data from the Middle East the outlook appears to be more of the same declines that have been showing up over the last three years.

Only two markets, Israel up 9.03% and the UAE up 13.31%, show positive trends. Overall, visits from the Middle East at 103,002 for the two months ,are down by 9.60%.

Takeaways from the data suggest there are emerging markets in Asia that deserve more attention and might in the long run compensate for any persistent declines in the China market.

Indonesia supplied 104,895 visits mainly on the back of improved airline connections thanks to low-cost airlines, delivering a respectable growth rate of 13.45%. The Philippines market generating 64,542 visits grew by 18.51%.  Hong Kong with 140,041 visits improved 15.34% and visits from Taiwan reached 135,061 up by an impressive 24.71%.

But the market that everyone has high hopes for remains sixth placed, India that supplied 287,032 visits up by a promising 20.07%, an indicator that it will continue to be a key player for Thailand’s beach resorts this year.