Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said strong growth is anticipated from both the international and domestic markets.
Next year, the international market should generate income of B2.28trn, while the domestic market should contribute B1.12trn, he said.
The TAT also predicted international arrivals would increase from a predicted 37.5 million this year to 40mn next year, with domestic tourists making 169mn trips for 2019, up from 160mn this year.
Revenue from domestic tourism will climb to B1.12trn from an estimated B1trn for 2018.
“Tourism contributes 11% to GDP. The industry will continue to grow and that is very challenging for TAT,” said Mr Yuthasak.
Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the government would continue using tourism as a key tool to drive the economy, reduce poverty and lower income inequality.
The government will also focus on sustainability by promoting responsible tourism.
The ministry is randomly inspecting some resorts on Phi Phi Island to verify their quality, check their licences and ensure they are legally employing staff. The move is aimed at increasing tourism quality and standards.
“Apart from that, the move is intended to eliminate nominees working in the industry for foreign investors. We don’t want them to put Thailand on sale and take the money back home,” said Mr Weerasak.
The minister said in the future tourists entering the country must buy insurance as part of new tourism standards.
The government has additional travel safety initiatives on the cards, he said.
The TAT has called a meeting with directors from its global offices worldwide to map out strategies for next year.
Pichaya Saisaengchan, director for the Dubai and Middle East office, said the TAT would encourage more visitors from this region, particularly female tourists, families and those seeking preventive medical service.
Last year 610,000 visitors came from the Middle East, mainly from the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Oman. The region accounted for 2% of total international arrivals, but average spending from the segment is B7,200 per head per day, higher than the B5,200 average from other markets.
“The high season for the Middle East falls between July and August, which is good [as it’s] Thailand’s low season. TAT expects tourist numbers from this region to increase by 3% next year,” said Mr Pichaya.
Jittima Sukpalin, TAT’s Executive Director for the Americas Region, said three TAT offices located in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto will seek out new markets such as first-time visitors and millennial tourists looking to travel independently and enjoy outdoor activities.
“We will promote secondary provinces such as Chumphon, Ranong and Trat provinces in this market,” she said.
Last year, more than 1.5mn tourists came from the Americas, including one million from the US and 250,000 from Canada.
TAT hopes total arrivals and revenue from the region rise by 10%.
Anchalee Kumwong, the TAT Beijing office director, said it would encourage new segments, including families, females, weddings, sports, and wellness visitors from major cities, promoting travel to secondary Thai cities in order to lure first-time travellers.
“China will remain the top market for Thailand. Only 10% of China's population, 140mn people, have a passport. That number will increase, boosting overseas travel,” said Ms Anchalee.
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