2022 marked the revival of Thailand’s tourism after two stalled years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The country welcomed 11.15 million foreign visitors in 2022, an enormous increase compared to 2021’s 428,000 international arrivals. This generated more than 500 billion baht in revenue.
Malaysia was the largest source market, followed by India and Singapore. Building on this momentum, the Kingdom expects 25 to 30 million international travelers in 2023 with total spending hitting 1.5 trillion baht. This target includes approximately 6 to 7 million visitors from mainland China. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) continues to strengthen the ongoing “Visit Thailand Year: Amazing New Chapters” by focusing on the “Amazing 5F and More” to drive meaningful travel experiences in food, film, festivals, fights, and fashion, experiences.
Starting from April 1st, Thailand reverted to its 30-day visa exemption and 15-day visa-on-arrival policies for tourists, marking the end of the previous respective 45-day and 30-day schemes issued last October. The country will also start collecting tourist entrance fees of 300 baht for air arrivals and 150 baht for arrivals via land and water transport from June 1st. The government expects to collect 3.9 billion baht in fees this year, which will be used to cover medical insurance for tourists during their stay.
Meanwhile, the return of the Songkran festival nationwide this month for the first time in three years will further stimulate the resurgent tourism sector.
As one of the fastest-growing digital economies in Southeast Asia, Thailand strategizes smart tourism development as a major factor in elevating the competitiveness of Thai tourism. Recently, TAT co-launched a national digital platform named “ThailandCONNEXT” to raise awareness and encourage the application of technology among tourism businesses, increase marketing opportunities, and foster tourism recovery plans.
In another effort to enable seamless travel experiences, Airports of Thailand (AoT) has introduced the upgraded “Sawasdee by AoT” app, enabling e-payment for goods and services beyond standard airport features. Meanwhile, the Tourist Police Bureau has encouraged foreign visitors to utilize the “I lert u” app to report emergency cases and seek help from nearby police to enhance tourist safety.
Earlier this year, the Thai Cabinet approved the extension of the “We Travel Together” campaign to boost tourism. The government allocated a budget of 3.95 billion baht, including 2.02 billion baht for room discounts and food vouchers, plus 1.93 billion baht for tourism marketing activities to stimulate both domestic and international markets and diversify tourist flow to secondary destinations. At the same time, TAT has formed a strategic partnership with four leading online travel platforms including Agoda, Alipay, Klook, and KKDay to develop a joint marketing initiative and increase awareness of experience-based tourism offerings in destinations across the country.
Tourism is one of the key focus sectors under Thailand’s Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economic model, which capitalizes the country’s strengths in biodiversity and cultural richness while leveraging technology to transform the national economy towards value-based and innovation-driven. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is working closely with the tourism sector to promote low-carbon and eco-friendly tourism at natural attractions, including initiatives to improve crowd and waste management and certify green awards for national parks and hotels with great environmental performance.
TAT has also partnered with the Thai Organic Consumer Association (TOCA) to implement a pilot project in Phuket to drive organic tourism by connecting hotels and consumers with farmers directly to source organic produce through digital technology. While expecting promising outcomes from the pilot by mid-year, TOCA hopes to expand to other provinces including Chiang Mai and Krabi.