Elections expected to boost economy, attract investors
The Thai government has set a date for elections in March and the private sector hailed the move saying it will boost investor confidence in the country. Shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand rallied on the announcement. Thailand plans a roadshow to Japan to attract further investment and the state megaprojects on the books are expected to attract private investors to work side by side with the state. Additionally, ad spending for the election has already begun as political parties increased spending on digital ads in the past 4-5 months to reach voters, spending is expected to rise during the election period by 1 billion baht. The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) estimates 30 – 55 billion baht will be circulated during the campaign. That, along with the government’s shopping tax incentives are expected to boost the GDP by 0.05 – 0.1 percent for the two-week period during February 1 -15, 2019. The Cabinet approved a VAT refund for shoppers during the designated period where qualified shoppers will be eligible for a 5 percent refund if they pay using debit cards linked to their Prompt Pay account.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand reported on foreign visitor numbers with Chinese topping the list in 2018. Overall 38 million foreign visitors came to Thailand in 2018, of those 10.6 million came from China, Malaysia came second at 4.1 million followed by 1.8 million each from South Korea and Laos. Japanese rounded out the top five at 1.6 million visitors. Russia and India tied for 6th with 1.5 million visitors, followed by Singapore at 1.3 million and Vietnam and the United States at 1.1 million. Foreign visitors generated 2 billion baht in revenues. In 2016 there were 32.5 million foreigner tourists with 1.6 trillion baht in revenues, in 2017 the number climbed to 35.6 million with 1.8 trillion baht in revenues. In a bid to attract Chinese tourists the government is launching an online e-visa which will be available for Chinese tourists in Beijing on February 15 followed by other mainland cities on March 1.
The Chinese are also keen buyers of Thai real estate accounting for about half of all foreign buyers in Bangkok with 72 percent saying they are buying for investment. The Chinese real estate portal juwai.com reports that Thailand was first for inquiries on the site in 2018 rising from 6th place in 2016 and 3rd place in 2017. Following Thailand in number of inquiries are Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In terms of total value invested, Thailand ranked sixth with higher priced locations the U.S., Hong Kong, Australia, and Malaysia.