Tourism has become increasingly important to Thailand’s economic performance in light of a sluggish global economy that has caused tepid growth in the Kingdom’s exports, the traditional driver of growth. Fortunately for Thailand, the long-term prospects for the country’s tourism sector are good, according to the Council.
Thailand’s infrastructure, experience, marketing prowess, niche diversification and its own growing prosperity all contribute to a robust outlook for its tourism sector.
“Over the longer term, growth of the travel and tourism sector will continue to be strong so long as the investment and development takes place in an open and sustainable manner. Enacting pro-growth travel policies that share benefits more equitably can foster a talent and business environment necessary to enable Travel & Tourism to realize its potential,” David Scowsill, president and chief executive officer of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), wrote in the organization’s report Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017 Thailand.
Among the key findings was that the sector directly contributed $36.7 billion to the Thai economy in 2016, equivalent to 9.2 percent of total gross domestic product (GDP). That figure is forecast to rise to 9.3 percent this year. Furthermore, the report forecasts that growth in the sector’s contribution will average 6.7 per year over the next decade.
Indirectly, travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP is even larger, estimated at $82.5 billion, or 20.6 percent of the national total in 2016. The report expects that to rise by 9.4 percent this year and average 6.5 percent growth per year during the coming decade.
The industry is a major source of employment, providing 5.73 million jobs, directly and indirectly, for 15.1 percent of total employment. Among countries in the world, Thailand is the seventh largest in terms of the number of jobs provided directly by its tourism industry. This year should see a large jump in tourism-related jobs, according to the report, with that total rising to 6.13 million, and 9.6 million by 2027.
Thailand ranked fourth in the world when it came to spending by tourists in 2016. According to the report, visitors spent $53.7 billion in Thailand last year, nearly three times as much as its closest regional competitors Singapore and Malaysia, and almost eight times as much as the global average of $7.6 billion.