Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports reports tourism revenue reached over THB627 billion during July to September, this year.
The count includes both domestic and international tourist spending.
Tourism and Sports Minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrnagkul, said for the third quarter, earnings increased 12.22% to reach THB627,037.25 million.
Of that, THB410,755.03 million was derived from the international markets up 14.77%, while THB216,282.22 million came from the domestic market up 7.69%.
In Q3, there were 8,228,278 international tourist arrivals to the kingdom up 13.09% over the same quarter last year.
Chinese tourist arrivals reached 2.42 million in the third quarter, up 14.53% and generated THB123,609 million an increase of 15.67%.
Visits from ASEAN reached 2.20 million up 14.63% and supplied THB67,601 million in tourism revenue.
Visits from Europe recorded 1.20 million up 12.11%. The visits circulated THB86,867 million in revenue up 15.60% over the same quarter last year.
In the domestic market, the government estimates 36.48 million Thais made trips during Q3, up 5.55% over the same period in 2015.
Of the THB216,282.22 million generated by domestic travel, THB155,631.85 million (+7.57%) went to 10 major destinations — Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Songkhla, Chonburi, Rayong, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chiang Rai and Kanchanaburi.
In addition, THB13,141.70 million (+8.54%) reached 12 so-called hidden gem destinations — Lampang, Nan, Phetchabun, Loei, Buri Ram, Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Chanthaburi, Trat, Chumphon, Trang and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
THB13,777.87 million (+8.21%) reached 12 hidden gem plus destinations — Lamphun, Phrae, Phitsanulok, Chaiyaphum, Surin, Suphanburi, Nakhon Pathom, Sa Kaeo, Rayong, Ranong, Satun and Phatthalung.
For the fourth quarter, the ministry projects that tourism revenue could reach THB690,616.05 million, up 1.28% over the same quarter last year.
Of that projection, THB389,884.43 million should come from international markets and THB219,731.62 million from the domestic sector.
In 2016, the country’s tourism revenue should reach THB2,486,282 million, 4.0% higher than the THB2.4 trillion target.
Of that, THB1,627,280.23 million will come from the international market (+11.68%) and THB859,002.58 million from the domestic segment (+6.96%).
The tourism minister said the outlook was positive due to the expansion of low-cost airlines connecting Thailand and the region.
“We also need to consider other factors such as the impact of senior tourists, an emerging middle class in Asia who travel on low-cost airlines and the independent Chinese traveller…they will all help to generate more tourists for Thailand”
This year, the ministry estimates the kingdom will attract 32.4 million international visits. It had earlier estimated tourist arrivals at 33 million this year.
Thailand tourism closed 2015 year with 29.8 million international tourist arrivals up 20.44% from 24.8 million in 2014. Revenue was estimated at THB1.44 trillion, up 23.39% from THB1.17 trillion in 2014.
Arriving at the number of visits and revenue in the domestic market is purely guesswork. Performance is based on estimates that are difficult to independently verify.
International tourist arrivals are based entirely on data collected by the Immigration Bureau, based on arrival cards filled out by travellers.
The resulting data indicates the number of visits at land, sea and air checkpoints, rather than travellers or even tourist visits. They do exclude visits made by expatriate Thais or Thais returning home from business or leisure trips.
However, the visits recorded by the Immigration Bureau could be for various purposes and not entirely linked to tourism.
In recent news reports, foreign tour operators, resident in Thailand, claimed Thailand’s international leisure travel market was around 20 million visits a year. However, it is a ballpark estimate that should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, the role tour operators play in generating visits to Thailand is declining rapidly. Travellers book direct and manage their own bookings, either for business, or leisure trips online. Tour operators are no longer a reliable benchmark of a country’s tourism success. Online hotel booking sites and online travel agencies are probably a more accurate barometer.