Revenue from foreign Tourists visiting Thailand
We have kept the data regarding income from international tourist arrivals in 2019 in detail on this page. Tourism and travel have seriously been disturbed in the world and particularly in Thailand. Tourism were prohibited from entering Thailand towards the end of March 2020. By that time, the number of arrivals had already started to dwindle. Towards the end of 2020, a very limited number of foreigners have been allowed to enter the country under stringent conditions. The number of arrivals during the final 3 months of 2020, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, was 10,822.
Total income from international tourist arrivals for 2020 was 332,013,030 Thai Baht. This compares with income during 2019 of 1,911,807,950 (updated income for 2019, slightly different from income mentioned in data for 2019 below) Thai Baht, a decrease by 82.63 %.
At an average exchange rate of 31.035 Thai Baht for 1 Dollar in 2019, tourism income for that year was : 61,601,673,917 U.S. Dollar.
At an average exchange rate of 31.282 Thai Baht for 1 Dollar in 2020, tourism income for 2020 was : 10,613,548,686 U.S. Dollar. In U.S. Dollar this was a decrease by 82.77 %.
Compared to 2019, Thailand lost close to 51 Billion U.S. Dollar in income from international tourist arrivals in 2020. According to NESDC, the GDP of Thailand for 2020 has been estimated at 501.8 billion U.S. Dollar. If income from international tourism in 2020 would have been the same as in 2019, 50.988 billion U.S. Dollar or 10.16 % could have been added to Thai GDP. Reversely, the country lost likely 9.22% in GDP due to a reduction in tourism income.
As we stated before somewhere else, Thailand loses about 1 % in GDP for every months the country is closed to international tourist arrivals. Since the country for all practical reasons has been closed since mid-March 2020, this fits relatively well.
How much money do visitors of different regions or countries spend in Thailand? Important parameters are the number of visitors per region or country, the days spent in Thailand, and the money spent per day of stay. These parameters vary somewhat widely between regions and less so within countries of one particular region.
We summarized the data per region. The reason is that there is little variation of length of stay, money spent per day, within each group. For example, the vast majority of visitors from Europe, whatever country they are coming from, spend between 2 and 3 weeks in Thailand. Because of its size and increasing importance, the data for China are given, together with a 'Rest of East Asia' group, comprising Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Just to summarize some staggering numbers : Tourists spent 1,933,368.23 million Thai baht in Thailand in 2019 (easier to say close to 2 trillion Thai baht). The average exchange rate in 2019 was 31.035 Thai baht for 1 U.S. Dollar. So the revenue from tourism amounted to 62.30 billion U.S. Dollar.
In 2018 income in Thai baht amounted to 1,876,136 million Thai baht, so in Thai baht there was an increase of 3.05 % in revenue.
In 2017 income in Thai baht was 1.831 trillion, which at the time amounted to 53.591 billion U.S. Dollar (exchange rate 33.94 Thai baht for 1 U.S. Dollar). The Thai baht has been strengthening over the last few years, which actually means that there is higher income when things are measured in U.S. Dollar, but less so when expressing income in Thai baht.
From date in 2016 and 2017, we know that the average tourist stays about nine and a half days in Thailand. However, length of stay varies substantially between regions for the following reasons :
1) Visitors from farther away stay longer. This makes sense, taking a 12 hour flight and then just staying a few days, is not a very rewarding experience. Europeans, Australians, Americans stay two weeks or longer.
2) Asians also have much less holiday days per year than Europeans. Therefore they often can only allow themselves shorter trips abroad.
From older data we also know that per day tourists from different countries spend quite similar amounts of money. Only Europeans seem to be a bit more 'stingy' but this relates to their longer staying periods. They stay on average about twice as long, but that does not mean they will buy twice as many souvenirs, or shop for twice as many goods.
Average spending per tourist in 2019 was 48,580 Thai baht (156.5 U.S. Dollar). Interestingly there is a clear difference between spending by Asians and Europeans (and Americans). The average Asian person (including Chinese and Japanese visitors) spends about 2/3 of what a European spends while on holiday in Thailand. The latter as mentioned before stays longer in the country.
In conclusion, Asian visitors provide the largest amount of revenue for Thailand as visiting tourists. However, the contribution of European countries can certainly not be disregarded. China at present brought revenue of 543.707 billion Thai baht in 2019, clearly the most important country for the Thai tourism industry. However, Europeans are not that far behind at 461.478 billion Thai baht. They still bring in more money than the countries of Asean combined (323.780 billion thai baht)
Added note : Of course, Thai people also travel abroad. 6,794,327 Thais did so in 2015, spending a total of 5.839 billion U.S. Dollar (or 199.976 billion Thai baht).
How are these data gathered?
We honestly do not know, but they have been reported for many years. We assume, this is one of the reasons, that when changing money etc. one is obliged to show identification. We can only assume that as good as feasible, all these data are tabulated somewhere, and the expenditure per tourist and per country of origin, registered. Hotels can also gather revenue data and report them (?). Nevertheless, it would be wise to consider the data gathered as an approximation. Even if there are some errors, comparison between subsequent years, remains quite valuable.
Amazingly, the Department of Tourism, can also provide data on how the money is spent (see below for 2016 data). Total expenditure per tourist here is 5,238 baht per day. Shopping (1278 baht), entertainment (526 baht), sightseeing (200 baht), hotels (1530 baht), food and drinks (1049 baht), transport (526 baht) make up the bulk of this expenditure.
Interestingly, the money spent for accomodation, per day per person, means that most visitors acquire accommodation in 2 and 3-star hotels, rather than in fancy resorts.
Data provided by , Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Thailand. In our experience you have to be able to peruse the data in the Thai language version, to get the latest updates. Even then it is a laborious endeavor.