Thailand's inbound tourism market posted slower growth in 2007. Tourist arrivals last year rose by only 4.6 percent over the year before, thus generating tourism income of THB534 billion in 2007, an increase of only 10.7 percent.
However, resumed popularity of outbound tourism last year was evidenced by the number of Thais making overseas trips totaling 3.85 million, a year-on-year increase of 18.5 percent against the growth of 10.8 percent in 2006. The increase could be attributed to the steadily rising Baht which may have added to the spending of Thais going abroad in 2007 to a staggering THB105 billion, up 9.3 percent, over-year.
From this trend, Thailand's net tourism income in 2007 is estimated to have risen by 11 percent over 2006 against the year-on-year growth of 35 percent in 2006.
High growth in the outbound tourism market since the latter half of 2007 is set to continue into this year due to the following supporting factors:
- The rising Baht that will help make overseas travel expenses cheaper.
- More affordable prices of short-haul travel package tours that are becoming comparable to domestic routes.
- The rising popularity of road travel to neighboring Indochina countries, i.e., Laos, Vietnam and China by Thai travelers
- Expansion of services provided by low-cost airlines both within the Asian region and to other regions.
- The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) forecasts that Thais making overseas trips in 2008 may total some 4.43 million, up 15.0 percent, over-year, with spending of Thai travelers in foreign countries totaling some THB115 billion, a year-on-year increase of 9.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Thailand's inbound tourism is likely to resume normal growth in 2008. KResearch projects that tourist arrivals in Thailand may total 15.6 million, up 7.9 percent, over 2007, which may generate tourism revenue of around THB585 billion to the country, up 9.5 percent over 2007.
Thailand's net tourism income in 2008 may, however, post decelerating growth from 2007, totaling some THB470 billion, up 9.6 percent, over-year, against the growth of 11.1 percent in 2007.
To achieve rapid growth in net tourism income to secure the country's financial stability, collaborative actions among relevant public and private agencies are needed for the promotion of Thai tourism in foreign markets. Emphasis should be placed on niche markets with high growth potential to rapidly gain greater tourism income. Along with this, campaigns should be launched in earnest to encourage Thais to travel within the country and thus save on our nation's foreign exchange losses.