Thailand eyes Middle East to hit 28m tourists
Thailand has recorded a surge in visitor arrivals, with the Middle East market contributing a fair share of the total number of visitors to the country.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thailand welcomed approximately 650,000 Middle Eastern visitors in 2014, with more than 150,000 visitors from the UAE; 78,000 from Oman; and 62,000 from Kuwait. The target of Middle Eastern tourists in 2015 has been set at 696,400.
“The Middle East market has remained an important source market for us, with an increase in the total number of arrivals; for example, January alone saw an increase of nearly 50 per cent,” the TAT Dubai & Middle East Office revealed. “This is a great sign in which we expect that tourist arrivals from the Middle East will continue to be positive throughout the year.”
During the January-April 2015 period, the most visited provinces were Bangkok with 18,137,860 visitors, followed by Nakhon Ratchasima (5,481,327), Phuket (5,337,616), Chon Buri (4,862,017), and Chiang Mai (2,771,407).
The TAT also revealed that the Middle East in general, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in particular, are a very important source of visitor arrivals. Visitors from the Gulf countries have a high average length of stay and daily expenditure. For example, in 2013, visitors from the UAE had an average length of stay of 10.6 days, while Thailand’s overall average was 9.8 days. The average daily expenditure of UAE visitors was more than $195, while the overall Thailand average was $150.
Visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 12.4 million between January-May 2015, up 25 per cent over the same period of 2014, and are on track to cross the estimated 28 million projection for the entire year.
According to the latest figures released by the Thailand Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the top five source markets in the January-May 2015 period were China with 3,273,695 visitors; Malaysia with 1,397,24; Japan with 575,186; Korea with 546,520; and Laos with 459,225.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports reported that the total arrivals of 12,448,641 were an increase of 24.72 per cent over the January-May 2014 period. They generated over 592.9 billion Baht in tourism income, up 25.13 per cent over the same period. The Ministry is projecting total earnings from tourism to hit the 2015 target of 2.2 trillion Baht, comprising of 1.4 trillion Baht from international tourism and 800 billion Baht from domestic tourism.
In May alone, Thailand welcomed 2,309,250 tourists, an increase of 38.21 per cent over May 2014, and 18.79 per cent over May 2013. It was also the highest monthly growth for that month. By region, a strong growth was reported in arrivals from East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and America. Only the European market showed a decline, primarily because of the decline in arrivals from Russia.
An analysis of visitor expenditure in the January-May 2015 period indicated that the top spenders were Chinese tourists (156.839 billion Baht), followed by Malaysian tourists (33.092 billion Baht), Russians (29.021 billion Baht), the UK (27.949 billion Baht) and the US (25.047 billion Baht). The top spenders per trip included visitors from Sweden (78,177 Baht/person/trip), Canada (78,010 Baht/person/trip), Switzerland (75,893 Baht/person/trip), and Brazil (75,533 Baht/person/trip).