Thailand’s surge in visitors will produce “headache”

Thailand tourism chiefs fear problems from too much growth in tourism arrivals, according to a report in the Bangkok Post. Thailand recorded an unprecedented surge in visitor arrivals in 2018 with 38 million tourists, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism & Sports, a number expected to swell to more than 41 million in 2019. The largest market is China with 10 million arrivals, who have made a comeback after a slowdown due to the concerns about tourist safety. More than 330,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand in the seven-day Chinese New Year period in this month alone.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said: “TAT expects to welcome over 330,000 Chinese tourists during the seven-day period. They represent more than 30 per cent of the overall total of a million international arrivals that are expected to visit Thailand over the Chinese New Year.”

Malaysia (12.7 per cent) and India (11.2 per cent) recorded the highest growth on a year-on-year basis. Arrivals from South Asia grew by a strong 10.75 per cent to 1.60 million with India topping the list with arrivals of 1.28 million. This is a continuation of the surging growth that Thailand has seen in its tourism sector in the past decade, despite the authorities saying that they are no longer setting arrivals targets. The tourism stakeholders in Thailand have expressed their apprehension about over-tourism and capacity issues in the country’s popular destinations and congested airports. “If we actually really reach that level (41.1 million in 2019), I’ll have a headache,” tourism minister Weerasak Kowsurat was quoted as saying.