Tourism Statistics Thailand 2000-2018
Last update this page : September 2018.
See quarterly data from 2010 till 2018 at bottom of this page. First quarter arrivals in 2018 up by 15.4 % compared to previous year (10.61 million arrivals). Second quarter arrivals in 2018 up by 10.91% compared to 2017 (8.87 million arrivals). Chinese visitors continue to increase, but slight hiccup expected in the third quarter after a boat accident in Thailand whereby 47 Chinese tourists lost their lives.
Total number of visitors to Thailand increased from 32.59 million in 2016 to 35.38 million in 2017.
Update for 2017 : The first quarter of 2017 saw the arrival of 9,194,057 tourists, which was a modest increase of 1.72% compared to the previous year (9,038,893 arrivals). The largest contribution (about 27%) comes from China. Still, the number of Chinese arrivals decreased by 7.24%, compared to the same period in 2016 (see possible explanation later on).
The second quarter saw an increase (compared with 2016) from 7,553,011 to 7,129,583 visitors (+7.63%). Interestingly the number of Chinese arrivals increased from 2,270,011 to 2,272,773 (+0.12%). This modest increase was the first however since the third quarter of 2016.
The third quarter saw an increase in visitors from 8,246,701 to 8,777,142 (+6.43%). The number of Chinese visitors increased again from 2,415,632 to 2,682,087 (+11.03%).
While the first three quarters of 2017 saw modest increases in total visitors (single digit increase each month), the last quarter saw double digit increases in the months of October, November and December. Visitors increased from 7,765,968 (2016) to 9,280,428 (2017 and the best quarter ever). This can be explained to a large extent by the fact that the last quarter of 2016 formed a low base, due to a decrease in the number of Chinese visitors.
Update for 2016 : Arrivals continued to increase throughout 2016.
A total of 32,588,303 (sic) tourists arrived during the year, which showed an increase of 2,665,118 tourists (8.91%) when compared with the previous year.
Nevertheless, despite this continued influx of tourists, tourism authoritities are not completely satisfied and want ever more.
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 affiliated shops and establishments. This invariably leads to dissatisfaction by customers after the tours. It thus affecs Thailand's reputation as a tourist destination. Reportedly also the Chinese tourist authorities want this type of tours stopped.
So, as a result, the last quarter of 2016 was not that splendid. The number of arrivals actually decreased by 67, 088 tourist (compared to 2015). This was entirely due to a decrease in Chinese tourists from 1,819,429 arrivals in 2015 to 1,442,351 arrivals in 2016.
Hopefully, the number of Chinese arrivals which is still pretty high, will pick up again in 2017. It does show the increased dependency of Thai tourist growth on the Middle Kingdom.
I would say, do not start neglecting the other tourists.
Long-Term View : Boom Years for Thai Tourism Industry
In 2001 Thailand received 10.13 million visitors. In the early years of the millenium there was a slow rise, later a very fast increase in tourists arrivals. In the 16 years since 2001 we now have seen an increase in arrivals up to 35.38 million in 2016.
With 9,280,428 China provides the largest number of visitors (27.7% of total), while the country hardly provided any visitors in the first years of this millenium.
This page has been abbreviated from previous versions. More elaborate descriptions for past years can be found here :
Source : Ministry of Tourism and Sports, up to 2017, Bank of Thailand (2018 update)
Temporary Setbacks for Thai Tourism Industry :
(see graph below at bottom) :
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.
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. Bombing of the Erawan Shrine on 17 August 2015.
Crack-down on zero-dollar tours at the end of 2016 had a significant effect on Chinese arrivals. This seems to still persist during the first quarter of 2017, but overall the number of visitors kept on rising in 2016 and 2017.
Often, arrivals are modestly affected for 2 or maximum 3 months, and then things pick up again.
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 only during the first three quarters of 2014.
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.
Now in 2017, provisional data indicate receipts from tourism total 1,824,042.35 million baht, which is an increase of 85.4 % in Thai baht compared to 5 years ago.
In dollar terms, at an average rate of 33.945 Thai baht for 1 U.S. Dollar, receipts in 2017 totalled 53,735.23 billion U.S. Dollar !!!
Interestingly, the tourism sector does not only depend only on foreign visitors. The number of domestic tourists may actually dwarf the number of foreign tourists,but domestic tourists (mostly Thais) do spend much less per day and their trips are shorter.
Quarterly Arrivals from 2007 till second Quarter of 2018 :
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.
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.
Eventually, a military coup was staged. 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.
Soon after however, tourist arrivals picked up dramatically.
See graph below, showing a dramatic increase of visitors during 2015 and 2016. 'despite' Thailand being under military rule. Again, 2017 tops previous years regarding the number of tourist arrivals. These last three years Thailand has been under military rule, with no adverse effect on the tourism industry.
Latest update : First Quarter of 2018 shows an increase of arrivals of 15.4% (compared to first quarter of 2017), reaching 10.61 million arrivals. Second quarter 2018 saw 8.87 million visitors, an increase by 10.91% when compared to the same quarter in 2017.
Numbers show number of tourist arrivals (in millions).
Source data : Department of Tourism, Thailand. Since 2017 data are available at website of Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Research Thai language pages for latest updates. When we updated our data in June 2018, new data for 2018 were not yet available there, but we found them on the Bank of Thailand website after a search.