Secondary tourism destinations see strong growth from international tourists
International travelers, mainly from Europe and North America are driving tourism to secondary destinations such as Chiang Rai, Koh Lipe, and Trang. Statistics from Expedia show that nearly 90 percent of people using their site to book secondary destinations came from international travelers. Trat showed itself to be the most popular destination followed by Koh Lipe, Chiang Rai came in third but also showed the largest growth with bookings jumping 60 percent year on year. Mae Hong Son and Trang came in fourth and fifth and also showed strong year on year growth. Overall bookings to these destinations have grown 30 percent year on year.
After Chinese arrivals dropped in July and further drops expected in August after the Phuket boat disaster, the Thai government is implementing measures to restore confidence in the safety and convenience of travel in Thailand. The government plans on implementing special Immigration lanes for Chinese travelers at five airports, Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Hat Yai staffed with officials with Chinese language proficiency. The government is also mulling multiple entry visas for Chinese visitors, they currently must obtain a two-month visa, in a bid to woo frequent travelers. A road show to Phuket showing implemented safety measures is planned for Chinese media to restore confidence for travelers. Tourism numbers showed overall growth for the first six months of the year, reaching 19.48 million, a 12.6 percent year on year rise.
The Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) predicted export growth will grow between 8 and 9 percent this year, after June exports grew in almost every market and a smaller-than-expected impact from recent trade barriers. The growth in June extended a 16-month growth streak for Thai exports, reaching over US$21.7 billion, an 8.2 percent increase from the same month last year. Growth was reported in almost all markets including the US which saw record expansion. The only exception was the Middle East. The TNSC warns of risk factors including US trade barriers, exchange rate volatility, the current price slump in some agricultural products like rubber, and conflicts in the Middle East that could send oil prices higher.
The Bank of Thailand has forecast GDP growth will continue to grow in the second quarter and is confident that GDP growth in the second quarter will be higher than that of the first quarter which jumped to a five-year high of 4.8 percent year-on-year. Growth in the second quarter of 2018 has been driven by thriving exports, tourism, and private consumption. The Government Savings Bank has forecast that this year’s GDP growth will be between 4.6 percent and 4.9 percent.