For a small country, Thailand has a remarkable tourism industry, and anyone who has been captivated by Thai culture, Thai food and the friendliness of the people can easily see why. Maybe we are biased, but we believe the official slogan “Amazing Thailand” is well deserved.
Thailand is consistently among the top five countries in the world in terms of revenue generated from tourism. In fact, at US$ 57.5 billion per year, Thailand trails only the United States, Spain and France. But it ranks ahead of countries like the U.K, Italy and Australia. Tourism is growing steadily year-on-year, and currently contributes circa 20% to Thailand’s GDP – nearly double the global average.
Clearly this is an extremely important component of Thailand’s economy as well as being a key driver for the Phuket property market.
Number of Arrivals
The high season, which typically begins after the first full moon in November (or coincides with the Loy Kratong holiday) and ends around April/May, sees over 3 million tourists enter Thailand each month. In December, January and February this figure is closer to 3.5 million. The low season (or green season as it is also known) after May sees the numbers drop off. While the median net worth of each visitor maybe lower than those who visit the island in the high season, the figures still remain above 2 million per month.
The number of tourists visiting Thailand has been climbing steadily over the last 20 years. In fact, the last time we saw fewer than 10 million visitors in a year was in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, tourism has grown at a staggering pace, from an average of 10 million per year in the early 2000s to over 35 million visitors annually today.
Nearly 10 million Chinese nationals were expected to visit Thailand in 2018, meaning around one quarter of all visitors to the Kingdom were from China. Neighbouring Malaysia is second on the list, sending over 3 million tourists to Thailand, followed by Korea (1.7 million), Laos (1.6 million), Japan (1.57 million) and India (1.3 million). The number of Russian nationals coming to Thailand has continued to increase (currently just ahead of India at 1.35 million), while the USA, Singapore and the United Kingdom are all bringing in approximately 1 million each.
What Tourism Means for the Local Phuket Economy
Over 15% of total employment in Thailand is attributed to the tourist sector. When it comes to resort islands such as Phuket or Koh Samui, that percentage becomes demonstrably higher. In Phuket, for example, over 35% of everyone employed on the island is in the hotel or restaurant business. Adding the workers whose jobs are linked to, or dependent on, the hospitality sector takes that figure even higher.
What Tourism Means for the Phuket Property Market
The pertinent question to ask here is whether the real estate sector would be where it is today without tourism. The answer is obvious. The real estate sector relies heavily on tourism.
Tourists are the fuel that keeps the property sector burning. Without the foreign market, the fire would almost certainly be reduced to embers, and the property sector would be forced to undergo a transformation.