Sluggish spending affects Thailand's tourism recovery

By VNA   October 4, 2023 | 06:52 pm PT
Sluggish spending affects Thailand's tourism recovery
A Chinese tourist is welcomed by Thai traditional puppets during a welcome ceremony of the first batch of Chinese tourists under a five-month visa-free entry scheme at Bangkok's International Airport, Thailand, September 25, 2023. Photo by Reuters
Despite welcoming 20 million foreign tourists in the first nine months of the year, Thailand's tourism industry has not seen a significant economic boost, due to global economic concerns and a high level of household debt.

Chamnan Srisawat, President of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said the high level of household debt was the most significant factor affecting domestic tourism in the third quarter, which was reflected via the tourism confidence index of 69, dropping from 91 in the same period of 2019, and 74 and 72 in the first and second quarters of this year.

As of October 1, the number of foreign visitors topped about 20 million, a year-on-year rise of 250%, with Malaysia claiming the top spot with 3.28 million, followed by China (2.5 million) and South Korea (1.19 million).

In the third quarter, operators had a recovery rate of revenue at only 54% of the 2019 level. The majority (76%) said their income was still worse than 2019.

According to Chamman, the slow economic recovery in China has affected overseas spending.

A TCT survey showed that only a quarter of Chinese visitors had high purchasing power with an average spending of over THB70,000 (US$1,900) per trip, with most of them spending less than THB70,000.

Some of high spenders paid around THB3 million, or over THB100,000 per trip, as they purchased assets like condos or luxury brand items to diversify and mitigate economic risks they encountered in China.

To effectively attract high purchasing power from China and other countries, TCT suggested the government consider other measures on top of the visa-free scheme, such as special tax incentives for foreigners who want to buy properties or luxury items in Thailand.

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