Thailand’s tourism powers down

BANGKOK, 24 July 2019: Thailand’s sky-high tourism performance could be losing momentum as the growth rate slows to just 1.48% during the first six months 2019.

Ministry of Tourism data for January to June 2019, released Monday, showed the country welcomed 19,769,347 visitors based on headcounts at all immigration border checkpoints.

While registering a 1.48% improvement compared with the same period last year, the travel industry will recognise the telltale signs of a weakening performance.   They will recall visits during the first six months of 2018 improved by 12.56% to reach 19.48 million. For the first six months of 2017, tourist arrivals improved by 4.41%. 2018 closed with an increase of 7.54%.

The six-month figure for revenue registered a slight 0.94% growth delivering THB1,022,477.25 million in tourism receipts.

Thailand has downgraded its 2019 arrivals forecast from an earlier target of 40.4 million to 39.9 million while the goal for foreign tourist receipts stands at THB2.2 trillion.

The top five source markets are in Asia led by China, while traditionally a high performing Europe totalled 3,604,954 visits a dip of 1.80%.

The single market, China outperformed all of Europe with 5,650,474 visits at the half-year point although arrivals sank 4.73%. Chinese tourists spent THB310,470.98 million over the six months down by 4.02%

Malaysia remained the second-highest visitor source market with 1,930,077 trips an increase of 6.75%, followed by India in third place with 978,785 visits up by a remarkable 24.10%.

Korea in fourth place supplied 907,387 improving 2.93% while in fifth place Laos delivered 886,341 trips up 5.45%.

Blame for the lacklustre performance focuses on various factors that the Tourism Authority of Thailand identified at its annual marketing event last month.

Negative factors include a strong baht against the Euro, US dollar, the UK pound and the Australian dollars, to name a few.

But then there are other reasons cited such as poor safety and security, stiffer competition from short and long haul destinations. Vietnam is one high flyer competing with Thailand, particularly in East Asian markets such as Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

There are also global economic uncertainties while the blame game even extends to Brexit.

Critics suggest Thailand could be losing its “Wow” factor due to so-called overtourism and pollution.  However, it is more likely to come down to the rising cost of travel as the Thai baht continues to make gains against most major currencies.
The way forward, according to the Ministry of Tourism focuses on reinvigorating the country’s tourism appeal through the introduction of new destinations and chasing the elusive travel category called “quality tourism” a catchphrase for the moneyed traveller.


  1. Another problem is the xenophobic military government. Regular foreign visitors feel far less welcome nowadays, with new restrictions and difficult online visa applications. Once visitors arrive, they are greeted with the same nationalist anti-foreigner sentiment, which has spread bad feelings amongst Thais towards foreigners.
    We are greeted by large billboards near the airport somehow putting the blame on tourists for the sale of Buddha tourists. Then there are the stories in the papers about overstaying or misbehaving foreigners and Thailand wanting to attract ‘quality tourists’.

  2. Whatever you say here is analysis but actual causes must be discovered by making question or primary research from the mouth of all expecting oversea tourists in generating tourism market, the MoTS or TAT must do it to find out the real causes.
    There must be the inside Thailand negative cause-effect to cause the dip of international tourist arrivals. Since we all wake up in the morning till going to bed at night, we have learned many negative feeling news from politics to social all are problems. It’s really hard to hide our real face from makeup and cosmetics to attract strangers, isn’t it? Only intensive Thai market tourism promotion is not enough now, all we need is inclusive tourism management action systematically.

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