BANGKOK, 2 June 2023: Thailand is on the cusp of a new era of tourism prosperity in 2025, the Tourism Authority of Thailand confidently predicted in its latest forecast delivered at the country’s annual travel trade show TTM+ on Thursday.
Based on the country’s tourism performance since 2022, after Covid-19 travel restrictions eased, TAT predicts full tourism recovery will be achieved by the end of 2024. The benchmark remains 2019’s tourist arrivals that closed at 39.92 million, the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down global travel in March 2020. Thailand is now forecast to reach around 40 million tourist arrivals by the close of 2024, but the country will have lost four years to the pandemic, losses that cannot be recouped.
TAT is currently fine-tuning its 2024 marketing plan for release to the travel industry at the close of its weeklong MAP2024 marketing activity plan meeting in June. The comprehensive marketing strategy aims to shatter the 2019 record in visitor arrivals and tourism receipts to declare business is back on track but with some differences. TAT’s marketing plan will focus on sustainability, high-value tourism, and meaningful travel.
Eye on a new government
As the country is going through a government transition following the elections in May, TAT stated that its plan would need to be flexible and adaptable to align with the new administration’s policies.
Despite the lack of a clear direction from a political standpoint, TAT deputy governor for international marketing – Asia and the South Pacific, Tanes Petsuwan, affirms the authority has made preparations and stands ready to address the tourism situation and engage in discussions regarding the future direction with the incoming Cabinet.
“With 63 years of establishment, the TAT has worked with administrations from various political parties. Professionally, the organisation has been following a strategic direction and has accomplished goals with the resources allocated.”
In the meantime, Tanes added that the TAT was closely monitoring the formation of the new government, acknowledging that at least two key points in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the eight coalition parties align with the authority’s focus on sustainability and revenue distribution.
TTR Weekly asked TAT deputy governor for marketing communications, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, during the TTM’s opening media briefing what would be the key areas that the authority would stress are critical to success as the country’s new administration prepares to take the helm.
He replied: “Tourism is already a crucial part of the economy, so the agency (TAT) needs reaffirmation from the new government that it will continue to support the tourism industry across all areas, including marketing, brand building, and tourism development, placing the tourism industry high up as possible on the economy.”
TTM+ revives confidence
TAT directors updated the progress of the Thai tourism industry during the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+), which took place from 31 May to 2 June at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre for the first time since the complex underwent a major remake.
TTM+ attracted 374 international buyers from 50 countries, of which 42% were new buyers. This year’s buyer count reflects an increase of 35.5% compared to the 276 buyers who attended the event in Phuket last year.
In addition to the sellers, TAT also extended invitations to more than 20 trade visitors from Saudi Arabia, providing them with a firsthand experience of Thai tourism products and services, the first opportunity since the two countries restored full diplomatic and trade ties earlier this year.
TTM seller turnout
On the supply side, TTM+ delivered 435 sellers, mainly in the hotel and resort categories. This year’s sellers also included Cambodia and Myanmar’s national tourism organisations. The count marks an increase of 60.7% compared to the 264 sellers present last year. TAT noted that the B2B platform would generate 11,760 buyer/seller appointments as part of the effort to drive the recovery of tourism to achieve 80% of the revenue from the international market recorded during the pre-pandemic, or a target of THB1.5 trillion by the end of this year.
In the post-pandemic period, TAT set its targets to recover 50% in 2022, 80% in 2023 and 100% in 2024. The recovery of the flight capacity is one of the critical factors. According to TAT, the overall percentage of flight resumption to Thailand is 70% compared to the year before the pandemic. From China alone, flights in June reached 90% compared to 2019.
This year, TAT targets a possible ‘base case scenario’ of 25 million visitor arrivals. From 1 January to 27 May, Thailand welcomed 10,378,457 international arrivals generating THB428 billion. The top five tourism markets were Malaysia (1,606,373), China (1,098,604), Russia (734,995), South Korea (627,760), and India (583,319).
To achieve the year-end target, TAT will continue implementing activities aligned with the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2023: Amazing New Chapters’ communication theme. The TTM+ is expected to serve as a platform to enhance performance in the year’s second half. This year’s edition of TTM+ continues to showcase and emphasise the ongoing efforts of the Thai tourism industry in promoting meaningful travel experiences.
TAT organised satellite activities alongside the TTM+ for the first time. These activities included a domestic travel fair promoting travel across various regions. It also introduced Amazing Thailand Culinary City to enhance gastronomy tourism by bringing together food tourism suppliers to showcase their products and services to international buyers and consumers.
Chattan said, “TAT is illustrating Thailand as offering meaningful-driven travel to improve visitors’ experience. Encompassing discovery, transformation, fulfilment, and engagement between people, cultures, and nature, this underscores TAT’s direction to make a destination for protecting the country’s vast natural and scenic beauty and instigating a range of environmental initiatives.”