Thailand inbound predicted to grow less than 5% in 2020

Chinese tourists riding an ATV in Phuket

Thailand is expected to see a less than five per cent increase in overall foreign tourist arrivals this year due to a global economic slowdown and a strong baht, reported Reuters.

The country welcomed a record 39.7 million foreign visitors in 2019, but missed the 40 million target – partly due to the very strong baht, Chairat Triratanajaraspon, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, told Reuters.

Chinese tourists riding an ATV in Phuket

He added that while the number of tourists is increasing, it’s “not much”, sharing that while there was a 10 per cent growth in previous years, this year Thailand may only see a less than five per cent growth.

Tourism is a key driver of the Thai economy, but the strength of the currency has cut tourists’ purchasing power, particularly those from China, the country’s biggest source of visitors, Chairat told Reuters.

The council predicts the number of Chinese visitors this year will be around last year’s 11 million, as more Chinese holidaymakers are choosing to travel to other countries in Asia. Another reason why Chinese tourist numbers are not seen growing much is the baht, which rose 10.7 per cent against the Chinese yuan last year, and “that has had quite a big impact”.

The baht was also Asia’s best-performing currency, with a nearly nine per cent rise against the dollar in 2019.

On the flipside, it is predicted that the number of Indian tourists will jump more than 30 per cent this year from more than two million in 2019, as the base is still small. India is Thailand’s third-largest source of tourists after China and Malaysia.

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