According to statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS) on Monday (Aug 26), international arrivals for July 2019 totaled around 3.33 million, an increase of 4.72% year on year, while visits from Mainland China in the same month grew by 5.81% year on year to 983,752.
Overall spending during the month grew to B167.28 billion, compared with B162.23bn for July last year – a growth of 3.11%. Chinese spending meanwhile grew even more significantly – by 7.44% (from B48.97bn to B52.62bn).
For the seven months of the year so far Chinese arrivals (6.63mn) and receipts (B326.99bn) are still at a lower level than last year (-3.28% and -0.93% respectively). Yet Thailand finally recorded a year-on-year growth in Chinese arrivals after five months of continuous decline.
MoTS statistics also provided some support to the optimistic remarks by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, who said last week that there were positive signs for the third and fourth quarters this year as TAT offices in China reported strong advanced bookings of airline seats to Thailand next month.
Mr Yuthasak was confident some 11mn Chinese travelers could visit Thailand this year, up from 10.5mn visitors in 2018.
Worth pointing out that the five-month decline in arrivals was recorded only on the Mainland China market. Arrivals from Hong Kong and Taiwan had been growing steadily through the first half of the year and continued to grow in July.
According to MoTS statistics, arrivals from Hong Kong and Taiwan in July grew by 3.26% and 10.83% receptively and totalled 108,027 and 67,836, while spending grew by 2.56% and 4.23% totalling B4.59bn and B2.98bn.
Japan and South Korea also stayed on the positive wave showing 4.89% and 8.2% growth in arrivals alongside 4.88% and 7.97% growth in spending.
Visitor arrivals from India in July 2019 continued to boom, growing from 130,417 last year to 164,159 this year (+25.87%), with a 35.51% jump in spending from B5.72bn last year to B7.75bn this year.
Arrivals from India since beginning of the year have already totaled 1.14mn (+24.5% year on year) while spending reached B46.96bn (+29.67%).
As of last week, TAT expected some 2mn arrivals from India this year thanks to more direct flights and free visas-on-arrival until April 30, 2020.
Meanwhile, Russia – the largest non-Asian market – still struggles to reach last year's benchmarks. In July, arrivals from Russia fell 6%, from 49,720 last year to 46,737 this year, with a 2.73% fall in spending, from B3.90bn in July 2018 to B3.79bn this year.
Speaking of January-July in total, arrivals from Russia fell 3.14%, from 900,535 last year to 872,293 this year, with a 4.36% fall in spending, from B61.28bn to B58.6bn.
According to TAT Governor Yuthasak, Russia is still considered to be not only a big market but a market with good potential as well. TAT forecasts overall Russian arrivals to reach 1.5mn this year.
In 2018 around 1.47mn Russian tourists traveled to Thailand and generated over B105bn in revenue for the country.
Most Western European markets in July fluctuated or went down, including the UK (79,872 arrivals, +0.15%), Germany (52,191 arrivals, -1.9%), France (57,449 arrivals, -2.94%). Growth in arrivals was recorded for the markets of the Netherlands (41,844 arrivals, +11.71%) and Eastern Europe (21,101 arrivals, +2.51%).
In total, the European market (including Russia) underperformed, providing Thailand with only 439,204 arrivals (-1.7%) and B31.58bn in spending (-2.66%) in July and 3.98mn arrivals (-1.72%) and B274.48bn in spending (-1.52%) since January.
Known as pretty unstable recently, the markets of Australia and New Zealand went down in July as well. Australian visitors fell by 6.94% to 73,069. Arrivals from New Zealand dropped by 7.52% to 12,536. Spending by tourists from Australia and New Zealand dropped by 10% and 10.22% respectively, totaling B5.69bn and B0.87bn.
In contrast, visitor arrivals from the US increased by 4.85% to 92,634. Arrivals from Canada were down by 0.99% to 17,276. Spending by Americans grew to B6.76bn (+3.01%), spending by Canadians dropped to B1.39bn (-3.47%).
Total arrivals from all markets in the first seven months of the year totaled 23.1mn, showing 2.19% growth. Spending grew by 2.44% – to B1.12 trillion.
Despite the continuing growth, MoTS last week trimmed its foreign arrivals forecast to 39-39.8mn this year from 40.2mn. Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said he is confident the new projection is achievable as the government has been working to offer incentives to foreign visitors.
The target for tourism revenue this year is set by TAT at B3.38trn.