2017 will be the year of a new foreign attendance record with a total visitors estimated at 35.4 million, an increase of 9% over the previous year. 350,000: it was the number of foreign tourists per year in the 70s. Who would have thought that 45 years later Thailand would welcome 100 times more?


Tourism: The spin of Thai GDP growth

Thailand continues to rise with the growing tourism sector, which now accounts for nearly 18% of annual GDP (compared to 9% for the world average). In 2017, Thailand welcomed nearly 35.4 million visitors, the equivalent of half of the country’s total population. An impressive figure that continues to grow.

It should also be noted that in December, the milestone of 1 million American tourists was exceeded, a first for the Kingdom of Siam. The number of French travellers meanwhile, has increased from single to double in the space of ten years. According to official data from TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), 667,500 French visitors came by the country between January and November 2017, an increase of 0.85% over 2016 over the same period. For the same year 2018, the Kingdom of Siam expects 750,000 French tourists.

The tourism industry employs 2,458,500 workers in Thailand (6.4% of the total market). According to a study by World Travel & Tourism Council, more than 4 million people are expected to work in this sector by 2027, representing an average increase of 5% over the next 10 years.

A growing niche tourism market

Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam attract millions of travellers, thanks to their irresistible tourist sights such as the temples of Angkor or Halong Bay. To face competition from neighbouring countries and maintain its leadership, Thailand has decided to position itself in niche markets such as golf (Chiang Mai was named “Golf Destination in 2017 of Asia”), the stays gastronomy or medical tourism. To date, Thailand is the leading destination for medical tourism, with an estimated 2.8 million foreign patients annually.

The Chinese remain the largest visitors in Thailand

Of the 35 million tourists who visited Thailand in 2017, there were 10 million visitors from China. An impressive number when the statistics was 8.7 million in 2016, and barely 900.000 in 2006. Why this craze so sudden? in addition to improving infrastructure in the country, the famous Chinese film “Lost in Thailand” published late 2012 has exploded tourism in Thailand. Following the popularity of this feature film, Chinese travel agencies has begun to offer a visit to the cult places of the film, especially in Chiang Mai where a large part of the film takes place.