The country received 11.15 million foreign visitors in 2022, up from 428,000 the previous year.
Thailand welcomed 11.15 million foreign visitors in 2022, surpassing the government’s target for the year and suggesting the recovery of its tourism sector will continue this year, the country’s tourism ministry said. Said yesterday.
This was still well below the 40 million international arrivals the country recorded in 2019, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it marks a vast improvement from the 428,000 visitors the country received in 2021, when access to the country was complicated by a series of pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Surprisingly, the country’s top three source markets in 2022 were Malaysia, India and Singapore, according to data from the ministry.
This is obviously good news for Thailand, whose economy is the second largest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but which is also unusually dependent on tourism. While the country managed to contain COVID-19 with relative success during 2020, lockdowns and a collapse in international travel have brought international tourism to a virtual standstill. This contributed to the country experiencing the second worst recession of the 10 ASEAN nations that year, with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reporting its economy contracting 6.1 percent.
Thai tourism authorities are now targeting 25 million international visitors by 2023, a goal that will be greatly helped by the resumption of outbound tourism from China, following Beijing’s sweeping decision to abandon “zero COVID” and its restrictions. associated travel earlier this month. In 2019, Thailand welcomed a record 11.5 million visitors, but China’s prolonged flirtation with its Whack-a-mole “zero COVID” policy has slowed Thailand’s hoped-for recovery.
In fact, the resumption of Chinese outbound tourism has been welcomed across the region. In the Philippine capital Manila, Reuters reported this week that Filipinos in traditional attire “played bamboo marimbas and handed out necklaces and gifts” to the first Chinese visitors to return to the country since before the pandemic. The Indonesian authorities also put on a similar show in Denpasar in Bali, where the first direct flight from China in three years landed with an honor guard of traditionally dressed Balinese flight attendants and lion dances to mark the Lunar New Year.
Meanwhile, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Tiong King Sing, this weekend personally received Chinese visitors arriving from Fuzhou with Lunar New Year souvenirs.
In 2019, the Philippines and Indonesia welcomed 1.7 million Y 2 millions Chinese visitors, respectively. But just like in Thailand, that dropped dramatically last year to just 39,627 travelers in the Philippines and about 100,000 In Indonesia. Malaysia experienced a similar decline, but has set a stretch goal to attract 5 million Chinese tourists this year, a 60 percent increase in the 3.1 million who visited in 2019.
On a related note, the Singapore government said this week that it is on track for a full recovery of its tourism sector by 2024. The city-state saw 6.3 million visitors last yearaccording to tourism authorities, below the 19.1 million registered in 2019, but slightly above the government forecast of 4-6 million.
Like its neighbors, Singapore will also be boosted by the return of Chinese outbound travel. The country welcomed 3.6 million visitors from China in 2019, the country’s largest source of foreign arrivals.