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Thailand Aims for Record 7.5 Billion Baht from Foreign Film Productions in 2023, Says Sermsak Pongpanich

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The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has big expectations for Thailand this year, aiming to generate a whopping 7.5 billion baht from foreign film productions. That’s a solid 10% bump from last year’s earnings! According to Tourism and Sports Minister, Sermsak Pongpanich, this goal is totally within reach, especially with the buzz around White Lotus Season 3, HBO’s smash hit that’s currently filming in the picturesque locales of Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samui.

Adding a local flavor to the hit series, Thai-born K-pop sensation, Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban, is set to make an appearance this season, making it all the more exciting.

Just this past Friday, Mr. Sermsak had a meet and greet with Scott Schaeffer, HBO Production’s senior vice president. The meeting underscored the dual benefits of foreign film production: a juicy revenue stream and a magnetic boost to tourism, as fans flock to see the iconic shooting spots. It’s not just about the money; these productions pump life into the local economies by creating jobs and stimulating various sectors.

Since the dark times of the Covid-19 pandemic, Thailand’s film production scene has been riding a wave of growth. Fast forward to 2022, the country scored around 6.39 billion baht from 348 different productions. That number climbed to 6.75 billion baht last year, thanks to 466 productions from a medley of 40 countries. Quite a leap, isn’t it?

For 2023, the ministry is feeling optimistic, forecasting a sweet 7.5 billion baht windfall from the film industry. Mr. Sermsak highlighted that in just the first five months alone, 214 foreign films had been shot in Thailand, raking in a cool 3.53 billion baht and generating jobs for nearly 14,000 locals. That’s some serious moolah!

On his end, Mr. Schaeffer didn’t hold back his praise. He was all in for the stellar professionalism shown by Thai crews and the rock-solid support from the government. He couldn’t stop gushing about Thailand’s stunning shooting locations, especially the jaw-dropping landscapes of Phuket, Koh Samui, and various islands dotting the Gulf of Thailand.

This dreamy vibe comes in part thanks to enticing tax rebate incentives offered by the Thai government, which, according to both HBO and Warner Bros, are the best deals across Asia. These deals are proving to be golden tickets, drawing more and more international productions to Thailand.

Mr. Sermsak is confident that these incentives, including a generous 20% cash rebate and a personal income tax waiver for foreign actors and actresses, will continue to lure big names and bigger productions to Thailand. With its rare blend of breathtaking locations, skilled crews seasoned in global productions, and top-tier government facilitation, Thailand is set to become the Hollywood of the East.


  1. Sarah Turner June 23, 2024

    Thailand becoming the ‘Hollywood of the East’ sounds great, but how sustainable is this really? The environmental impact can’t be ignored.

    • Tommy12 June 23, 2024

      I agree, the environmental impact is something we need to consider. These productions consume a lot of local resources.

      • EcoWarrior June 23, 2024

        If managed responsibly, foreign film productions can bring in funds that actually help invest in local environmental preservation.

        • Sarah Turner June 23, 2024

          True, but that requires strict regulations. Is the Thai government stringent enough?

    • Mike D. June 23, 2024

      Hollywood has been exploiting locations for years, it’s no different now. As long as Thailand gets its cut, why shouldn’t they cash in?

      • greenpastures June 23, 2024

        Exploitation or not, the locals benefit financially and it’s a welcome change from past struggles.

  2. John Smith June 23, 2024

    I’m stoked for White Lotus Season 3! Bringing in Lisa is a genius move, can’t wait.

    • Anna Lee June 23, 2024

      Yeah, Lisa being part of it will surely attract more viewers from the K-pop fanbase. Great strategy!

    • filmfanatic June 24, 2024

      I just hope her performance doesn’t feel forced. Sometimes these marketing tactics can backfire.

      • John Smith June 24, 2024

        If the script is good, it should be fine. Plus, it’s cool for the local fans to see a homegrown star.

  3. Economist101 June 23, 2024

    7.5 billion baht is a significant boost, but what about the local film industry? Will it get overshadowed?

    • Local Artist June 24, 2024

      That’s a good point. Foreign productions might hog resources and focus away from local talent.

    • Jane Doe June 24, 2024

      On the flip side, local talents get to work with international crews, which can be a learning experience.

      • Economist101 June 24, 2024

        If local talent gets the spotlight, it’s a net positive. But there should be some protective measures for the local industry.

  4. TravelDewd June 23, 2024

    Filming in places like Koh Samui and Phuket is smart. Tourists will flood those places.

    • Lkilroy June 24, 2024

      Overtourism is already an issue in these locations. It could get worse.

    • Wanderlust23 June 24, 2024

      Sure, but the extra income can fund infrastructure upgrades to handle the tourist influx better.

  5. Paul H. June 24, 2024

    So, they are getting tax rebates and personal income tax waiver for foreign actors? That sounds like a loss in revenue.

    • HBO4Life June 24, 2024

      It’s an investment. Without these incentives, productions might go elsewhere. The overall economic gain should outweigh the tax breaks.

    • Jane R June 24, 2024

      Exactly, it’s a competitive edge. Other countries offer similar deals to attract productions.

  6. CultureFan June 24, 2024

    Wonder if this film boom will dilute Thai culture in these locations. Authentic experiences could be commercialized.

    • TukTukDriver June 24, 2024

      That’s a valid concern. But exposure to global media can also promote and preserve our culture.

    • Larry D June 24, 2024

      Cultural dilution is a small price to pay for economic growth. It’s 2023, we need to open up to the world.

    • Maria S. June 24, 2024

      As long as cultural heritage sites are protected and not altered, it’s a win-win.

  7. Tom Brown June 24, 2024

    What’s the big deal about a 20% cash rebate? Seems like all countries offer something similar.

    • filmgeek June 24, 2024

      It’s also about the quality of locations and local talent. Thailand offers more than just financial incentives.

    • Sam W June 24, 2024

      Don’t forget the tax waiver for foreign actors. That can make a huge financial difference for productions.

  8. Grower134 June 24, 2024

    The focus should be on how the locals benefit. Are these jobs high-paying or just menial tasks?

  9. Nancy June 24, 2024

    This film production revenue is great and all but how is it being distributed? Are local communities really seeing the benefit?

    • Chris P June 24, 2024

      That’s a great question. Transparency in revenue distribution is key.

    • Sonny P June 24, 2024

      Local economies can benefit through secondary channels like tourism, but I agree, direct benefit should be clearer.

  10. Kumar June 24, 2024

    Are we sure 7.5 billion baht is even realistic? These projections often fall short.

  11. AreW3DigitalYet June 24, 2024

    With 214 films already in five months, 7.5 billion baht seems reasonable. The trend is upward.

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