Digital economy continues to grow
According to online travel booking site Agoda, Bangkok is the most popular destination in Asia in 2018 while Thailand came in second as most booked Asian country this year. Tokyo was the second most popular city followed by Hong Kong, Osaka, Taipei, Seoul, Singapore, Bali and then Pattaya. Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Phuket are the top five destinations for Thai travelers followed by Khao Yai, Chonburi, Krabi, and Chiang Rai.
Thailand’s internet usage, mainly through mobile devices, continues to climb with the number of internet users jumping 24 percent in a year to 27 million people. Out of the country’s 69 million people, 47 million have access to mobile phones. The market for data storage in Thailand has grown 30 percent in the past year with hybrid cloud-based storage systems emerging as the preferred choice for on-site and off-site facilities. Under Thai law certain data, such as banking information and others, cannot be stored outside the country. Many Thai banks have launched mobile platforms and moved their customers to those platforms as well as for pre-approval for mortgages and other loan requests.
Thailand has also seen growth in e-commerce and continued widespread use of social media platforms; KTB has just launched a new pay via Facebook service. In 2017 there were 49 million Facebook accounts in Thailand, Instagram had 13.6 million and Twitter 12 million. Thailand ranked 8th in the world with number of Facebook users. Thailand’s Internet economy contributes 2.7 percent of national gross domestic product and Google Thailand sees growth in those numbers. E-commerce is valued at US$ 3 billion in 2018 while online media, included advertising gaming, and music and video subscription, is now about US$2.4 billion, growing at 44 percent each year. Online travel reached US$6.1 billion and is expected to grow 18 percent each year.
The Board of Investment has continued targeting investment in the digital economy with investors applying for promotions for 135 projects in the first nine months of the year, a huge leap of 405 percent year on year. The total value of investment has reached 12.7 billion baht. Digital businesses are one of the 12 targeted industries under the government’s S-curve plan; software development, digital platform service, cloud service and innovation incubation centers. The government has recently approved investment promotion for seven cloud service firms, a new digital park by True Corporation and two new data centers by Chinese tech giant Huawei.