Amazing arrivals make Thailand smile

BANGKOK, 26 January 2024: Asia Pacific delivered the bulk of the tourist arrivals to Thailand during 2023, with just over 20 million visits out of the grand total of slightly more than 28 million, according to the official count posted on Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports website last week.

Earlier figures based on January to November records with an estimate for December varied from 27 million to 28.4 million depending on which daily media you read.

Provisional figures swept aside; the ministry posted the full data confirming 28,150,016 visits in 2023, a 154% increase in visitor arrivals compared to 2022, which mustered slightly more than 11 million.

Based on the ministry’s data, the overarching Asia Pacific region generated 20,177,759 visits out of 28,150,016. That region included 9,822 280 visits from Southeast Asia, 7,557,650 from North Asia and 1,998,790 from South Asia (mainly India).

Europe delivered 5,962,231 visits, the Americas 1,287,461 and the Middle East 600,499. 

Traditional EU markets falter

Travel from Europe underperformed along with the Middle East. Some key factors impacting travel to Thailand and Southeast Asia include rising airfares and a shortage of operational aircraft — some direct flights still need to resume. The economic slowdown in Europe, rising inflation and living costs could also limit discretionary spending on long-haul travel.

Alternative destinations compete with Thailand, especially Southeast Asian destinations such as Bali, Vietnam, or Cambodia. They might offer more competitive pricing or visa-free entry for Europeans, posing competition to Thailand.

Thailand’s top 10 supply markets

The top 10 country markets emerged as super suppliers with a couple of surprises. China dropped to second place, Vietnam joined the list, and there was no sign of stalwart tourist supplier Germany in the top ranking. Hong Kong was missing, too. Due to poor outcomes in 2022, the percentage increases in 2023 were in the high 80s. Some were amazing — China up 1,200%, Russia up 254%, South Korea 212%, Japan 179% and Vietnam 125% 

Malaysia took the top spot with 4,563,020 visits, followed by China in second place with 3,519,735 visits. South Korea took the third place with 1,658,688. India was fourth with 1,626,720, and Russia was fifth, supplying 1,481,878 visits.

Vietnam ranked sixth, delivering 1,033,688 visits; Singapore seventh with 1,027,424; Laos eighth with 919,40; UK ninth with 917,220; and Japan 10th with 805,768.

Thailand’s tourism officials are forecasting tourist arrivals will hit 40 million and pass the pre-COVID-19 level of 39.9 million.

(Source: Data chart Ministry of Tourism and Sports website)

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