Thailand set to struggle with expected tourist influx of 60 million by 2030

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With this year’s Global Summit of the World Travel & Tourism Council being held in Thailand’s capital Bangkok on April 26 and 27, the country is bracing for a continued massive influx of visitors over the next years, wondering at what point infrastructure and accommodation facilities will be be insufficient to handle the masses.

Thailand, which is already among the top visited countries worldwide with foreign arrivals of more than 32 million last year, expects to welcome 60 million visitors in the year 2030, almost as much as its own population. And the number is not an overly optimistic internal forecast, but based on a report by the World Economic Forum which normally isn’t prone to exaggerations.

According to Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry, the country needs to upgrade basic infrastructure such as ports, airports, railways and roads to cope with the mass arrivals.

“Thailand’s transport infrastructure remains inadequate for keeping up with the increasing number of tourists,” Pongpanu said, adding that the country needs a “more comprehensive” transport infrastructure development if it not wants to get worried about the impact of the huge annual visitor numbers that have more than doubled from 15.9 million in the past six years.

The lion’s share of the rapid visitor growth make increasingly wealthier and more mobile tourists from mainland China which accounted for almost half the rise in visitor arrivals and are mainly tour groups.

Another issue is the overdependence on tourism income for the otherwise lackluster domestic economy. Official figures say that tourism already accounts for an unhealthy 17.7 per cent of GDP, unofficially it should be more than 20 per cent given the large grey area of unlicensed and untaxed activities in the tourism sector that remain below the radar of state statisticians.

In its aim to avoid the potential pitfalls of mass tourism but maintain the influx of tourism monies, the Tourism Ministry now wants to attract more “quality tourists” in the premium holiday segment, in the meetings and incentive sector, in health and wellness tourism and those well-heeled visitors who love dining, shopping and culture rather than backpacking, full moon-partying and “zero-dollar” bus tours.

The most visited country in the world is France with 85 million tourists last year, followed by the US with 77 million and Spain with 69 million, according to the world Tourism Organisation of the United Nations.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

With this year’s Global Summit of the World Travel & Tourism Council being held in Thailand’s capital Bangkok on April 26 and 27, the country is bracing for a continued massive influx of visitors over the next years, wondering at what point infrastructure and accommodation facilities will be be insufficient to handle the masses.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

With this year’s Global Summit of the World Travel & Tourism Council being held in Thailand’s capital Bangkok on April 26 and 27, the country is bracing for a continued massive influx of visitors over the next years, wondering at what point infrastructure and accommodation facilities will be be insufficient to handle the masses.

Thailand, which is already among the top visited countries worldwide with foreign arrivals of more than 32 million last year, expects to welcome 60 million visitors in the year 2030, almost as much as its own population. And the number is not an overly optimistic internal forecast, but based on a report by the World Economic Forum which normally isn’t prone to exaggerations.

According to Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry, the country needs to upgrade basic infrastructure such as ports, airports, railways and roads to cope with the mass arrivals.

“Thailand’s transport infrastructure remains inadequate for keeping up with the increasing number of tourists,” Pongpanu said, adding that the country needs a “more comprehensive” transport infrastructure development if it not wants to get worried about the impact of the huge annual visitor numbers that have more than doubled from 15.9 million in the past six years.

The lion’s share of the rapid visitor growth make increasingly wealthier and more mobile tourists from mainland China which accounted for almost half the rise in visitor arrivals and are mainly tour groups.

Another issue is the overdependence on tourism income for the otherwise lackluster domestic economy. Official figures say that tourism already accounts for an unhealthy 17.7 per cent of GDP, unofficially it should be more than 20 per cent given the large grey area of unlicensed and untaxed activities in the tourism sector that remain below the radar of state statisticians.

In its aim to avoid the potential pitfalls of mass tourism but maintain the influx of tourism monies, the Tourism Ministry now wants to attract more “quality tourists” in the premium holiday segment, in the meetings and incentive sector, in health and wellness tourism and those well-heeled visitors who love dining, shopping and culture rather than backpacking, full moon-partying and “zero-dollar” bus tours.

The most visited country in the world is France with 85 million tourists last year, followed by the US with 77 million and Spain with 69 million, according to the world Tourism Organisation of the United Nations.

 

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