Tourism Statistics Thailand 2000-2016
Last update this page : 26 November 2016.
See quarterly data from 2009 up to third quarter of 2016 at bottom of this page.
2013 saw the highest number of arrivals yet at 26.55 million arrivals.
During 2014 arrivals decreased to 24.81 million (-6.54%).
(Arrivals decreased by 10,28 % in the first three quarters of 2014. The end of 2014, saw an increase in arrivals, compared with the previous year)
2015 saw a massive increase in the number of visiting tourists. 5 million more visitors arrived, bringing their total up to 29,881,091 . There was some loss of momentum during the months of September and the fourth quarter of the year with only minor increases in visitor numbers in these months. Likely this was related to a bombing of the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok on 17 August 2015, which caused 20 casualties, and was reported worldwide.
To a great extent the increase in visitors in 2015 was due to the significant increase in Chinese tourists. 7,934,791 Chinese tourists arrived (26,55 % of the total !), and increase of more than 3 million when compared with 2014. Then again, the number of Russian visitors dropped from 1,606,430 to 884,085 or almost by half.
Update November 2016 : Arrivals continued to increase in the first, second and third quarters of 2016.
9.04 million visitors in the three first months, an increase of 15.45% when compared to 2015. 7.55 million visitors in the second quarter of 2016, an increase of 8.23% when compared with the second quarter of 2015, which indicates a slight loss of momentum of arrivals (15.45% increase in first quarter, compared to 8.23 % increase in the second quarter). 8.23 million visitors arrived in the third quarter of 2016, and increase over third quarter of 2015 of 12.8% .
Anyway, if the trend continues, we may see a number of about 32-34 million tourists arriving in 2016.
Somewhere at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter a crackdown was started against so-called zero-dollar tours (mainly coming out of China). Zero-dollar tours are very cheap to book, however once in Thailand, visitors are strongly enticed to buy a lot of goods at very inflated prices, at predetermined shops and establishments. This invariably leads to some dissatisfaction of customers after the tours. It thus could effect Thailand's reputation as a tourist destinations. Reportedly also the Chinese tourist authorities want this type of tours stopped.
The effect, if any, will be seen in the fourth quarter. Some airlines appear to be affected (less flight bookings), as reported in Thai news media.
Review : Boom Years for Thai Tourism Industry
International arrivals to Thailand from 2000 to 2015 show a significant rise from 2000 onwards. If we take the year 2000 as an easy benchmark with 10 million visitors at the time, we reached 26.55 million visitors in 2013, an increase of 165 %. Arrivals decreased by 6.54% during 2014, in a year that saw massive political demonstrations, followed by the military taking over the government. A recovery occurred in the final quarter of that year, and 2015 saw a boom in arrivals, almost up to 30 million.
Temporary dips in arrivals occurred (see graph below) :
Global recession and riots in Thailand 2009
Riots and political uncertainty in 2010, major flooding of a large part of Thailand and northern Bangkok end 2011, and political demonstrations end 2013 and ongoing into 2014. Anti-goverment demonstrations occupied most of the first half of 2014, and were followed by declaration of martial law, and a military (bloodless) Coup d'Etat on 22 May 2014. Military government since then. Bombing of the Erawan Shrine on 17 August 2015 likely had some negative effect on the number of arrivals.
This page has been abbreviated from previous versions. More elaborate descriptions for past years can be found here :
Source : Department of Tourism, Thailand
The Office of Tourism Development website has recently been updated and shows arrival statistics. The excel files on the website provide data in English, just follow the 'Statistics' link.
It is safe to say that health scares and the global recession had a more pronounced impact than the local political uncertainly, riots and demonstration. Thailand experiences an unstable political scene, but overall fortunately the tourism industry continues to grow with a moderate hick-up during the first three quarters of 2014. Visitors picked up again at the end of 2014 and kept on rising in 2015.
Tourism Industry in Thailand
Thailand's tourism industry contributes a big chunk to the country's GDP. While about 10 years ago, the industry contributed about 6.5% of Thailand's GDP, lately we can estimate that it contributes between 9 and 10 %.
When seeing the number of tourists, and the number of tourist destinations and hotels, one would actually expect an even more substantial portion of GDP. But Thailand's tourism industry, while very visible, brings in less money than other service industries, and certainly less than its manufacturing industry.
Totalling everything, in 2012, tourist revenue amounted to a staggering 983,928 billion Thai baht. This was more than 34 billion U.S. Dollars at the exchange rate at the time. On average, visitors spend about 4,800 Thai baht per day, and stay about 10 days.
Data for 2015 on tourism receipts from international arrivals are also available now. 42.544 billion U.S. Dollar (or 1.457 trillion Thai baht) was received with average expenditure per tourist of 150.14 U.S. Dollar per day. (exchange rate at the time : 34.25 baht baht/1 dollar)
Interestingly, the tourism sector does not only depend only on foreign visitors. The number of domestic tourists actually dwarfs the number of foreign tourists. But domestic tourists (mostly Thais) do spend much less per day and their trips are shorter, on average two days and a half. In 2007 there were reportedly more than 83 million in-country travel trips. This created 380 billion baht in revenue.
Average daily expenditure was around 1770 baht per person in 2007.
Quarterly Arrivals from 2007 till Third Quarter of 2016 :
Thailand has a tourist season when more visitors arrive. As you can see below, the number of visitors is almost consistently higher during the first quarter and the last quarter of each year. This coincides with a more pleasant climate in the country ('cold' season), and less favorable weather conditions in Europe, and large parts of Asia, like China and Japan.
We figure that Thailand missed out on in between 1 and 2 million potential extra visitors in both 2009 and 2010. The same is probably true for end 2011 with the major floods, and end 2013-begin 2014 with the political uncertainty.
It is interesting to know that negative factors seem to loose influence in just 2 to 3 months each time, with visitors resuming their interest in Thailand as a major tourist destination thereafter.
Since end November 2013 till May 2014 there were continuous anti-government demonstrations, led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban. The political upheaval surely affected the tourism industry, with various foreign goverments issuing travel warnings. The House of Representatives (Parliament) was dissolved on 9 December 2013. Elections were scheduled on 2 Februari 2014, but were disrupted and later invalidated by the Constitutional Court.
Caretaker prime minister and several other ministers were removed from office by the Constitutional Court, because of a controversial transfer of a security officer in 2011. A new caretaker prime minister was installed. Both anti-goverment demonstration and also demonstrations by pro-government Red Shirts continued unabated.
Martial Law was declared by the Royal Thai Army on 20 May 2014.
The above contributed to a decrease in travel arrivals during 2014, spread over the first three quarters of the year. During the first 9 months of 2014 around 2,000,000 less tourists arrived in Thailand, or a decrease of -10.28% when compared with the same period of 2013. To put it into perspective, the number of arrivals in 2014 is still clearly higher than in 2012.
Gloom and doom were clearly reversed during the last quarter of 2014 which saw the highest number of arrivals in a quarter ever. Arrivals increased by 6.5% compared to the previous year. As before, tourism picks up about 2-3 months after stability in the country has been restored.
See graph below, showing a dramatic increase of visitors during 2015 and 2016 (highest number of arrivals ever), 'despite' Thailand being under military rule.
Numbers show number of tourist arrivals (in millions). Dates of political unrest and untoward events :
2009 : most negative events 11-12 April
2010 : most negative events : around 19 May
2011 : flooding of Central Thailand and part of Bangkok Oct-Dec
November 2013-May 2014 : political demonstrations, political upheaval Martial Law imposition 20 May 2014.
The first three quarters of 2014 saw a drop in arrivals when compared with the corresponding quarters in 2013 (-10,28% or about 2 million visitors less). However a few months after the military Coup d'Etat, during the final quarter of the year, tourism recovered.
The first two quarters of 2015 saw the highest number of arrivals ever, a good start to the year indeed. This trend continued during the third quarter, but with less of an increase in September (and October).
17 August 2015 : bombing of Erawan Shrine in Central Bangkok, with 20 casualties.
September and fourth quarter : Crackdown started on zero-dollar tours.