Thailand Now Seriously Struggling With Masses Of Tourists
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Dec 30, 2017

After years of booming tourism arrivals, Thailand counted a new record of a whopping 35 million visitors coming to the country this year, a number that is now straining the capacity of airports and immigration administration to the utmost.

Most of the growth comes from ballooning Chinese visitor numbers, and tourism officials in Thailand have now decided to put an end to mass tourism as a concept of the past decade, having given Thailand a reputation for delays, overcrowding and government misorganisation.

But this will take years. The country now started spending significant amounts of money to upgrade its tourism infrastructure, open up new islands and cities to travelers and tone down its image as a cheap mass destination with low-priced hotels and a huge nightlife entertainment industry that defined the sector for half a century. There are plans to spend more than $5 billion to double capacity at Thailand’s international airports.

The problem is that Thailand is overexposed to tourism but cannot handle the growth property. The government relies on tourism for 18 per cent of the economy and foreign inflows have made the baht one of the strongest performers in Asia this year, a bright spot amid weak domestic consumer demand and subdued private investment.

But Thailand’s main international Bangkok’s gateways, the two international airports Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang in Bangkok are running at 40 per cent beyond designed capacity, leading to multi-hour immigration waiting times to peak hours.

The problem is getting intensified by the policy of the current military leadership, which is planning to increase foreign tourist numbers further, targeting 68 million (!) annually in the next decade, which would translate in about ten per cent constant annual growth, a vision that is not fully applauded by some officials.

The new tourism minister Weerasak Kowsurat admitted that “today we’re not even ready. To get us prepared within a year is not even possible.”

Investment in new terminals and facilities at both airports and another runway in Suvarnabhumi would let them together handle 130 million passengers a year. But work will not be done until 2022 at the earliest.

“In three to five years’ time we might not reach our targeted tourist growth due to a lack of airport capacity,” said Thongyoo Suphavittayakorn, a spokesman for the Association of Thai Travel Agents adds.

“The problem with the Thai government is they want to increase the number of visitors but they don’t stop to check first if we’re able to accommodate them,” he told Bloomberg.

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution

Company Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Contact Imran Saddique