In a recent announcement, Thailand is on track to welcome a staggering 25 million tourists by the year end, offering a much-needed booster to the economy. This follows a significant surge in Thai tourism, exceeding 12 million arrivals recorded late last month, as relayed by deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.
Between January and June 25 of this year, the kingdom saw a record-breaking 12.46 million tourists, marking a phenomenal increase of 539% over the same period in the previous year. The bulk of these visitors hailed from Malaysia – totalling 1.9 million. China followed with 1.3 million tourists, then Russia, South Korea, and India with 784,428; 741,909; and 732,523 visitors respectively.
This unprecedented surge in the number of tourists matches up with the rise in airport usage reported by the Airports of Thailand starting from October of the previous year – the beginning of their fiscal year. The six busiest airports during the October to May period include Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hat Yai – collectively welcoming an impressive 34.3 million, marking a staggering 635% growth year on year. The airports recorded handling of 202,700 flights – both international and domestic, a substantial 175% leap from the number reported in the same time frame the previous year.
The deputy government spokesperson said: “Tourism represents a primary push for the growth of the economy for the rest of the year.” She further cited the Fiscal Policy Office, predicting that tourist arrivals will exceed two million a month in the final quarter of this year, as airlines ramp up their schedules for the winter season.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is reportedly instructing state agencies to eliminate obstacles currently impeding Thai tourism, including travel restrictions. A particular focus is being placed on likely improvements through enhanced interdepartmental cooperation involving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOF), the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Royal Thai Police.
Aiming high, the government is targeting a figure of 25 million tourists this year. The potential revenue from Thai tourism stands at 1.5 trillion baht. The TAT remain optimistic about achieving the ambitious target, partly driven by an expected influx of five million Chinese tourists, reported Bangkok Post. As part of these efforts, the TAT and the MOF are joining forces to launch the Visa Pre-screening System (VPSS) later this month, aimed at expediting visa applications for foreign tourists.
The Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, announced the deferral of a proposed tourist tax to January of the following year. The proposed tax initially agreed for June 1, involves a 300 baht tax for airborne tourists and 150 baht each for those arriving by land or sea. The revised taxation plan is set to be assessed by the new government to boost Thai tourism.