Pent-up demand for travel to Thailand won’t be released until fall, but, when it does, it could see the country attract 10 million foreigners, the Tourism Authority of Thailand governor said.
Yuthasak Supasorn said Jan. 7 that the rollout of coronavirus vaccines worldwide this year will finally allow people to start traveling internationally by the third quarter.
World tourism fell an estimated 70 percent in 2020, in line with the 74 percent decline that Thailand experienced, Yuthasak said, quoting United National Travel Organization figures. The UNTO doesn’t see world tourism recovering until the fourth quarter.
But Yuthasak said TAT offices around the country are reporting tremendous interest in traveling to Thailand, although most people cannot right now due to the coronavirus epidemics in their own countries, quarantine requirements on one or both ends of their trip, and a lack of money due to a pandemic-depressed world economy.
TAT expects tourism revenue next year to increase 44.6 percent to 1.3 trillion baht, with only 38.4 percent of that – 500 billion baht – coming from foreign tourists. It won’t be until 2022 that Thailand’s tourism industry will recover to two-thirds of 2019’s figures, Yuthasak predicted.
The authority believes next year will see 120 million domestic tourists and 10 million foreign arrivals. In 2022, that should increase to 180 million domestic tourists and 20.8 million foreigners.
Yuthasak called 2021 a “transitional” year for Thai tourism. There will be a late rush of foreign tourists at the end of the year, but most of the year should be spent focusing on quality over quantity of visitors, he said. It’s an opportunity for Thailand to change from a mass-tourism model to one that focuses on quality experiences for tourists and sustainability for the planet.
By 2022, the authority wants to see the average amount spent by each foreign traveler to increase from 47,000 baht in 2019 to 62,000 baht and Thai expenditures to rise from 4,700 baht per person to 4,900 baht.
Meanwhile, domestic tourism remains crucial. The government plans to continue the “We Travel Together” subsidized-travel campaign, despite its mixed results. Yuthasak also believes as many as 10 million fewer Thais will travel overseas, opting to spend their holidays in Thailand instead.