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26 Dec 2022

Econ Digest

2023 international arrivals to Thailand projected to reach 20.0-24.0 million, with less spending per trip and changing travel patterns


        Following the country’s full reopening in July 2022, Thailand has welcomed a renewed influx of foreign visitors. In 2023, KResearch projects that the number of foreign tourists coming to Thailand may reach 20.0-24.0 million, increasing from 11 million expected for this year. Tourists from the Middle East may surge to a level higher than that of 2019, led by Saudi Arabian tourists. While other tourist markets are generally likely to revive well, it will take some time to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. As for the Chinese tourist market, attention must be paid to the new COVID wave in China and the implementation of its policies ahead.

        It is expected that revenue generated by foreign tourists’ spending on Thailand’s tourism and related businesses will reach THB0.84-1.01 trillion in 2023. The average spending per foreign tourist per trip will be around THB42,000, up from THB40,000 in 2022, but remains less than the THB47,895 in 2019. This is due to several factors including changing travel demands – especially among short-haul travelers, younger travelers and backpackers – in addition to the economic slowdown that has affected travel budgets.

        Although foreign tourist arrivals are expected to increase in 2023, the figure will remain below pre-pandemic levels. The revival of inbound tourism markets remains uneven especially in China, as well as the tourism market still faces multiple challenges that include the risk of recession in major economies like the US and many European countries, the risk related to income and employment recovery, the prolonged Russia-Ukraine war, geopolitical tensions in East Asia, and the persistently high cost of living. These factors may result in tourist arrivals falling short of the expected target. Therefore, tourism business operators need to develop plans to cope with the changing circumstances in order to maintain business liquidity, such as adapting to action plans for changes or cancellations in tourist travel, investing prudently in new projects, penetrating varied tourist markets to diversify risks, and researching market trends to develop products that meet tourists’ needs while still adhering to security standards and service quality.

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