Tourist arrivals to Thailand surge in 2022 but still just a fraction of pre-COVID levels

Tourists in Thailand. File photo

Tourist arrivals to Thailand have surged during the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, but still remain far below pre-COVID levels.

According to official data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the kingdom welcomed 444,039 foreign tourists during the first quarter of 2022.

This represented a 2,101 percent increase in arrivals compared to the same period a year earlier.

In terms of revenue, tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2022 generated 34 billion baht, a 1,424 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.

The increase in tourist arrivals has been due to the improving COVID-19 situation around the world, the reopening of borders and the easing of entry requirements for people wanting to visit Thailand.

The Thailand Pass and Test & Go systems helped to facilitate the arrival of more tourists with limited quarantine.

Despite the increasing number of arrivals in the first quarter of 2022, the total number of tourists visiting Thailand remains just a fraction of the amount visiting prior to the pandemic.

In 2019, when Thailand was one of the most visited countries in the world, the kingdom welcomed 40 million tourists, which equated to over 100,000 arrivals per day.

Meanwhile TAT’s Marketing Strategy Division has forecast 341,340 foreign tourists will arrive in Thailand in the second quarter of the year, although it should be noted the forecast was made before it was announced Thailand would scrap all on pre and on arrival testing for foreigners.

In addition, the number of flights to Thailand will also increase significantly in Q2.

Increase in flights to Thailand

Between January and the end of March, there were 8,239 flights landing in Thailand. However, between April and the end of June the number of flights to Thailand is set to increase to 18,934.

However, TAT has also cautioned that external factors, in particular the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could impede tourism growth in Thailand throughout the year.

The cancellation of flights to Thailand from Russia, as well as the blocking of the banking system and the depreciation of the ruble is already having an impact on tourism growth, TAT data reveals.

At the same time, there are indirect effects, such as increased air ticket prices that have reduced tourists’ purchasing power.

The knock on effect of this is that according to data from travel intelligence specialists ForwardKeys, the overall pre-booking of air tickets to Thailand has decreased by 28 percent in April-June 2022 compared to January-March 2022.

This was thought to be due to a high contraction in the number of bookings from Europe, which has the highest proportion of bookings for travel to Thailand (89 percent), causing an overall decline in bookings.

According to TAT’s overseas market analysis, 128,100 tourists from Europe – more than any from any other region – will visit Thailand in Q2.

Tourists from ASEAN (72,120 people), Northeast Asia (39,000 people), the Americas (26,740), South Asia (25,220) the Middle East (23,900), Oceania (20,160) and Africa (6,100) will make up the rest of the arrivals to Thailand between now and the end of June.