As Thailand’s tourism industry continues its path to recovery, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is optimistic about reaching their target of welcoming at least 25 million visitors in 2023. An astounding 8 million international visitors are projected to explore the country in just the first four months of this year.
In a show of resiliency, popular Thai tourist destinations saw an influx of foreign visitors during the Songkran Festival. In response to the quicker-than-anticipated rebound in tourism, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn urged businesses to avoid price wars and instead capitalize on the considerable spending power of travelers eager to explore after the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
Wallapa Traisorat, CEO and President of Asset World Corp Plc (AWC), expressed similar optimism for the upmarket hotel segment in major tourist destinations like Bangkok and Phuket. The average room occupancy rate is an impressive 80%, even as room rates doubled when compared to pre-pandemic rates. Moreover, a slow but promising return of Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai is expected to bolster the recovery of upscale hotels in the area.
A recent survey by the Thai Hotels Association (THA) and the Bank of Thailand revealed that 74% of luxury hotels (5-star rating and up) have increased their room rates above the levels seen before the Covid-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, 38% of hotels across all rating levels have been able to adjust their room rates, with 17% seeing an increase of 16-30% compared to pre-pandemic levels. The remaining 15% reported a maximum rate increase of up to 15%, with 6% seeing an increase surpassing 30%.
However, the survey also identified that 62% of hotel operators in Thailand are grappling with labor shortages, and 25% face challenges due to customer numbers and service quality – particularly in the South and Central regions. As China relaxes its Covid travel restrictions, tourism operators expected more visitors from China in the first quarter of 2023. About 80% of respondents believe the number of Chinese tourists will continue to rise, though at a proportion under 40% compared to pre-pandemic figures.
Thailand’s tourism industry is heavily reliant on the return of Chinese tourists. The TAT estimates a total of 5 million Chinese tourists will visit the country this year, projecting a daily increase from 10,000 to 20,000 visitors in the second half of the year. Additionally, the TAT predicts that the number of Chinese tourists will surpass Malaysian visitors in the third quarter of 2023.
Aside from Chinese tourists, the TAT predicts that between 3.5 million and 4 million Malaysians will explore Thailand this year, while over 1 million tourists are expected to arrive from India and South Korea. With growing numbers of visitors flocking to the country, Thailand’s tourism industry is poised to make a strong recovery throughout 2023.