Tourist arrivals to Thailand Jan-May 2012


It would appear that the global economy slow down has had little impact on tourist arrivals to Thailand and we are heading for a bumper record year 2012. The Kingdom had a total of 8,871,930 visitor arrivals for the period of January through May 2012, up 7.27% compared to the same period in 2011. China was the best performer with 943,161 visitors, up 26.13% with the largest market share for an individual country of 10.63%.

Overall growth remains strong for Thai tourism with visitor arrivals to Thailand from all European countries of 2,690,783, a 10.9% increase for the period January through May 2012, according to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. European countries, even with the Eurozone crisis, accounted for a market share of 30.33%, up from 29.33% for the same period in 2011.

Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple) Chiang Rai. (Photo by Andrew J Wood) Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple) Chiang Rai. (Photo by Andrew J Wood)

The numbers showed that in May, arrivals from Spain, one of the worst-hit European countries, totaled 6,472, up 39% over May 2011. Arrivals from all the top three performing European countries were up significantly in May 2012, with Russia at 64,212 (+52%); UK at 60,216 (+12%); and Germany at 41,032 (+35%). For 2012, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a target of 20.5 million total international visitors and foreign exchange earnings of 766 billion baht (25 billion US dollars).

Below is a summary of the overall figures for the period of January through May 2012, with the percentage change over the same period of 2011, tabulated on arrivals by nationality at all points of entry into Thailand:


Europe 2,690,783 (market share 30.33% of total arrivals); the Americas 467,221 (5.27% share); South Asia 508,666 (5.73% share); Oceania 394,500 (4.45% share); Middle East 228,606 (2.58% share); and Africa 71,666 (0.81% share). Arrivals from East Asia grew by 5.02% to 4,510,488 (market share: the remaining 50.84% of total arrivals).

East Asia

* China was the best performer with 943,161 visitors, up 26.13%% with the largest market share for an individual country of 10.63%.

* Malaysia was the second biggest source market with total arrivals of 916,367, although with a decrease in arrivals of -7.87%.

* Japan: 5334,556, up 10.32%.

* Korea: 457,644, up 4.40%.

* Arrivals from the neighboring ASEAN countries also showed good growth, e.g., Vietnam (+20.19%), Brunei (+10.90%), Cambodia (+10.51%), Myanmar (+9.63%), Laos (+8.01%), Indonesia (+6.71%), Singapore (+4.82%), while the Philippines was down (-5.77%).


* Arrivals from Europe grew by 10.91%.

* Russia remained ahead of the UK and Germany as the largest source market from Europe. During the period of January through May 2012, Russian visitors to Thailand totaled 578,687, up 9.62% over the same period of 2011.

* The United Kingdom and Germany ranked the second and third largest sources of visitor arrivals 372,746 (+1.02%) and 326,733 (+10.44%) respectively.

* French visitor arrivals totaled 2776,617 (+17.84%).

* Arrivals from the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark grew by 18.86%, 17.67% and 16.69% respectively.

The Americas

* Arrivals from the Americas grew by 10.992%.

* USA visitor arrivals totaled 321,552 (+8.92%).

* Canadian visitors to Thailand grew by 10.82% to 101,050.

South Asia

* Visitor arrivals from South Asia showed growth of 5.58%.

• India, the biggest source of visitors in South Asia, experienced growth of 6.81% to 405,719 arrivals.

* Visitors from Sri Lanka grew by 16.47% to 27,320.

* Bangladeshi visitor arrivals totaled 26,533.


* Visitor arrivals from Oceania grew by 10.06%.

* Arrivals from Australia and New Zealand were up 10.33% to 354,646 and 7.88% to 38,615 respectively.

Middle East

* Visitors from the Middle East declined by 2.01%.

* Key Middle East markets grew significantly, especially Saudi Arabia (27.25%) and Kuwait (21.11%). Arrivals from Egypt were up by 22.16%, while the UAE experienced a decline of 1.58%.


* Visitor arrivals from Africa grew strongly by 30.46% to 71,666.

I believe that TAT has under forecast arrivals this year (hardly surprising given the difficulty in forecasting 4Q 2011 figures during the devastating floods). My own findings would suggest a figure of 21+ million international tourist arrivals this year, given that there are no surprises natural, political or otherwise and Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports remain fully operational.

Threats on the horizon…

Myanmar, the Eurozone, rising fuel costs, Chinese stability and AEC2015.

Once again and on into the future, intra-Asia business will be the main source market providing the lion-share of international tourist arrivals into Thailand.