By The Nation
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MOTS) announced it is expecting more than 40 million tourists to Thailand this year, up from the record-breaking 38.3 million in 2018.
According to the latest numbers released by MOTS, the first two months of 2019 showed a 2.5 per cent Y-o-Y growth in international tourist arrivals at 7.3 million, compared to 7.1 million the previous year.
In the first two months of 2019, the total number of Chinese tourist arrivals decreased slightly by 2.2 per cent Y-o-Y from 2.17 million in 2018 to 2.12 million. Chinese tourist arrivals in February, the month in which the Chinese New Year was celebrated this year, decreased by 12.3 per cent Y-o-Y.
Looking back at 2018, there was a 23.8 per cent M-o-M jump in Chinese tourist arrivals from 0.97 million in January to 1.20 million in February. This year, it was a 1.5 per cent M-o-M decrease in the same market.
Other key feeder markets like Malaysia, India, Korea, and Japan showed double-digit growth in the first two months, with India having the highest figure at 20.1 per cent Y-o-Y.
Even though the combined number of tourists from these four feeder markets was smaller than that of the Chinese market alone, this positive trend could help lessen the impact from the loss of Chinese tourists. The challenge remains for Thailand to win back this biggest feeder market now that the most significant holiday for Chinese people has passed.
Bangkok still attracts tourists from around the world. The number of international tourist arrivals to Bangkok in the first two months of 2019 as reported by MOTS was 4.68 million, a 3 per cent Y-o-Y growth.
The development of a third runway in Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which was approved by the government on 17th April this year, will strengthen Bangkok’s capacity to handle larger numbers of tourists in the future.
“In the first quarter of 2019, Rosewood Bangkok, a 159-key luxury hotel next to Phloen Chit BTS station, opened its doors to the public. This was one of Bangkok’s most highly-anticipated luxury hotel openings together with Capella Bangkok and Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, both of which will open later this year, underpinning renewed interest in the riverside area and capitalizing on recent developments outside of the hotel sector,” said Atakawee Choosang, Head of Capital Markets - CBRE Hotels in Thailand.
CBRE believes that Bangkok will continue to be one of the top tourist destinations in the world with new luxury hotel openings, improved infrastructure, and attractions that appeal to a wide range of tourists.