Thailand’s vibrant tourism sector has played an increasingly important role in the economy in recent years, boosting many related businesses and helping compensate for weak growth in other sectors.

International arrivals has reached 32 million in 2016, lifting tourism’s share of GDP to 11%.

The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in 2016 was THB1,292.5bn (9.2% of GDP) according to World Travel and Tourism Council recent estimation.

This is forecast to rise by 9.3% to THB1,412.2bn in 2017. This primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services). But it also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists.

The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP is expected to grow by 6.7% pa to THB2,708.0bn (14.3% of GDP) by 2027.

12 million tourists visit Thailand in first 4 months

According to Thai News Bureau Thailand has been visited by 12 million foreign tourists in the first four months of this year, generating more than 800 billion baht.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 2.827 million foreigners visited Thailand in April, 1.877 million of whom were from East Asia, followed by Europe and South Asia. Thailand gained 139.9 billion baht from tourism last month, which represents an increase of 7.64% year on year.

Between January and April 2017, the Land of Smiles welcomed 12.02 million people from overseas, creating a 2.91% rise in visitor numbers. The industry generated more than 800 billion baht for the country, an increase of 4.71% compared to the same period last year.

Arrivals should reach 37 million next year

In addition to direct income from tourist spending, the sector contributes to the economy via job creation and investment.

The three tourism-related sector– hotel and restaurant, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and communication – together employ more than 10 million workers, adding 1.4% each year and comprising 26% of total employment in Thailand.

Up to 20% of the GDP

The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP (including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts, was THB2,906.8bn in 2016 (20.6% of GDP) and is expect ed to grow by 9.4% to THB3,178.8bn (21.9% of GDP) in 2017.

The government and private sector should jointly undertake serious efforts to improve key supply-side factors.

In search of new growth market. Source : scbeic.com
In search of new growth market. Source : scbeic.com

This means include developing human capital, maintaining tourism sites and public assets and investing in well-connected transport infrastructure.

Travel & Tourism generated 2,313,500 jobs directly in 2016 (6.1%of total employment) and this is forecast to grow by 6.3% in2017 to 2,458,500

Tourism personnel need training in ethics, technology, creativity and innovation as well as language skills and service quality. More security personnel must be provided, while laws and regulations must be improved and enforced to ensure public safety.

Thailand needs high-quality, convenient public transport systems that connect primary and secondary destinations nationwide. Tourists need complete information on transport modes, routes and online ticketing.

About the author

Bangkok Correspondent at

Bangkok Correspondent for Siam News Network. Editor at Thailand Business News

1 comment
  1. Wonder how many of those arrivals will actually be tourists in Thailand. And, as far as Thai tourism revenue goes, all it is is one big guess.

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