While foreign tourism in France has recovered with figures above 2019, foreign tourism figures in Thailand are disappointing.
This week’s figures from Paris show France’s outbound tourism industry gaining domestic revenue 22% ahead of 2019 figures, while Thailand aims to reach, at best, 33% figures seen three years ago, a loss of 67%.
This news should be worrying for the Thai industry and raises questions about the permanent damage inflicted on the Thai industry since 2020.
Thailand’s overseas tourism sector appears to have suffered permanent damage from the country’s anti-Covid measures since 2020 with projected visitor numbers and a tourism revenue stream outside of country this year which is between 65% and 75% lower than what was seen in 2019.
The situation is very different in France, which saw visitor numbers recorded in July and August, with hotel spending 22% of 2019 numbers.
This is in stark contrast to Thailand, where government spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek pointed out that the country’s 2022 target for foreign tourist numbers is 25% of the number seen in 2019.
Figures released by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) show that from January to the end of August 2022, spending per foreign tourist fell by at least 11.5%.
See: Tourists return to Thailand in droves but spend less
This situation raises troubling questions about the failure suffered by the foreign tourism sector in the kingdom since 2020.
On Tuesday, officials from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) raised the possibility of targeting wealthy Indian families coming to Thailand to celebrate wedding events, as the kingdom approaches the peak season of the tourism industry, foreign tourism that starts in October.
However, despite the return of foreign tourists in numbers, there are worrying signs that the country’s foreign tourism industry is suffering structural and possibly permanent damage.
The government aims for a modest target of 10 million visitors for 2022
Earlier this week, Deputy Government Spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek spoke of the importance of the foreign tourism industry in the economy and predicted that Thailand will receive 7.5 million visitors in the second half of the year, as it aims for 10 million visitors this year, about 25% of the level seen in 2019.
At the same time, in Paris, Olivia Gregoire, Minister Delegate in charge of Tourism, held a press conference as she revealed the “extraordinary” results for the French industry that already exceeded the records of 2019 when 90 million people visit the country, making it the most popular destination in the world.
“We want to remain the number one destination in the world,” Ms Gregiore said as she scanned data showing that in the summer credit card spending at French restaurants and hotels surpassed what France saw in 10% month that has already reached the record set in 2019.
French data for July and August show that receipts are 22% higher than in 2019 for July and August
The data presented by the French Minister Delegate includes a key metric, the Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) which shows that the national income has increased by 22% compared to what was observed in 2019.
The numbers are even more dramatic for Paris and the French Riviera, as the relatively weak euro has led to an influx of high-spending holidaymakers from the United States and Gulf countries.
“We planned to go as a family, here in Paris, as well as in other parts of Western Europe two years ago, and we had to cancel them for the summer of 2020.
The long-delayed trip,” Graham Klym, a 38-year-old American tourist from Seattle, Washington, told the Reuters news agency.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) wants to target weddings in India
Meanwhile, while Thai planners analyze the wedding data in India and discuss a revival in outbound tourism spending levels, the actual data from the sector is less impressive.
Foreign tourist spending per visitor will decrease in 2022 compared to 2019
Basic government figures last week suggested that holidaymakers visiting the kingdom this year will spend just 35,000 baht (951.78 euros) per visitor, compared to more than 50,000 baht (1,359.69 euros) in 2019.
The latest figures from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) show that from January to August 28, 2022, Thailand received 4.2 million visitors who reportedly spent 186 billion baht.
This amounts to 44,286 baht (1,204.30 euros) per visitor, which represents a drop of 11.5% compared to 2019.
Even the targets for the year are off the mark with between 600 billion baht and 700 billion baht targeted, roughly a third or 33% of the level seen in 2019.
To achieve this, however, spending per tourist, which takes a median of 650 billion baht, must reach 65,000 baht per visitor.
This represents a 46.77% increase in cost per visitor compared to what we saw in the first eight months of 2022.
See also: Tourist surge in 2nd quarter should bring 400 billion baht to Thailand
While outlining his plans to target Indian wedding guests this year both inside and outside India, Thailand’s Tourism Deputy Governor (TAT) Siripakorn Cheawsamoot told Reuters that Thailand is aiming for $11 billion, or about 400 billion baht in the second half.
And the average spending of 48,000 baht per tourist throughout the year will see about 25% of the 2 trillion baht generated by the foreign tourism industry for the country in 2019.
Part of Thailand’s problem comes from China
Part of Thailand’s problem remains the fact that the Chinese market has not reopened despite plans to increase the frequency of flights from 3 to 15 per week between China and Thailand.
See: Flights between Thailand and China are expected to increase in September
A widening and worsening economic crisis in neighboring northern Thailand, where a virus emergency still shuts down major population centers, means that any absolute return to the market that accounted for more than 28% of those foreign tourists in Thailand in 2019, far.
British Airways snubbed Bangkok in favor of elite travelers to Singapore while Thai Airways’ load levels soared.
There are also growing concerns about the impact of rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis on Thailand’s main Western markets, such as the UK and the US. .
The problems of the global economy and the reduction of flight connections are the main concerns while the concern is increasing on the health and state of tourism in relation to France.
Another important issue is the limited flight connectivity and the reluctance of international airlines to prioritize flights to Bangkok at this time.
Major airlines focus their scarce resources on higher performance, which means they emphasize business class passengers.
The message for Thai planners, who already predict the return of more than 20 million visitors in 2023, or 50% of what was achieved in 2019, is clear.
It will be a long time before the kingdom can rebuild its income-generating tourism industry, which directly contributes 12% of GDP, more than 20% of jobs and indirectly accounts for up to 25 % of the economy, to recover the level of 2019 due to the widespread disruption caused by the pandemic inside and outside the country.
This situation highlights the difference between the tourism industry in France and Thailand.
The situation in France also makes it clear that the kingdom needs to look at what is happening in Thailand, even though Bangkok in 2019 was chosen as the most visited city in the world.
Source: Thai Examiner