Thailand has emerged as such a popular destination that almost 35 million foreign tourists — equivalent to half the country’s population — are expected this year.
The government is adopting new strategy in order to keep up the tourist influx. It’s now targeting a minimum increase in tourism revenue of about 5 percent annually instead of a particular number of visitors, Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said. This will consequently encourage the tourists to stay longer and in higher daily spending – which is the typical mix of the Australian holidaymakers.
Tourism Ministry data found that Australian visitors were among the top 10 biggest spenders in terms of per capita daily expenditure last year, forking out 5,831 baht ($172). the average length of stay of the Australian visitors is about 14 days. Some nationalities take even longer holidays but tend to be more parsimonious. British tourists, for instance, stayed for just over 18 days on average while spending 4,376 baht daily.
Political uncertainty and sluggish consumer demand are the two major challenges that Thailand tourism faces. The sector makes up about 18 percent of gross domestic product of the country.
Arrivals from overseas more than doubled in the past decade, powered by a surge in Chinese holidaymakers who contributed 28 percent of 1.6 trillion baht in foreign tourism receipts in 2016.
Kobkarn made it clear that Thailand does not only need to target just the wealthy tourists as the country needs travellers of every budget.
Thailand’s years-long tourism boom slowed somewhat in recent months. That’s partly because of terrorist bombings in resort towns in August last year and a clampdown by the military government on some operators of large Chinese tour groups, which were judged to generate insufficient local spending.
Thailand needs to be a quality tourism destination since a range of factors can prevent it being seen as the cheapest, such as rising wages or an appreciating exchange rate, Kobkarn said.