PHUKET: Continuing resurgence in Chinese visitor arrivals in January helped Thailand start 2019 with a total of 3.7 million arrivals during the first month of the year, an increase of 4.8% year-one year, generating tourism expenditure of over B195.8 billion (+2.4% y-o-y), the Ministry of Tourism and Sport (MoTS) has announced.
Mainland China remained the leading tourist source market with over 1.06mn arrivals registered in January, representing 9.3% growth against January 2018 and 19.2% growth against the previous month.
The Chinese arrivals generated tourism revenue of more than B55.8bn during the month, an increase of 4.7% year-on-year and an impressive 25.9% month-by-month.
The figures are a positive sign for the Chinese segment of the market which had seen several months of dropping arrivals after the Phoenix boat tragedy last July that killed 47 Chinese tourists.
The accident hit the tourism industry hard, with thousands of hotel cancellations and six Chinese carriers halting their flights between China and Phuket. The Chinese market began to recover in December and, as MoTS reported earlier this week, continued in January.
Meanwhile, Russia kept its status as the most important market among non-Asian countries with 229,518 arrivals in January (+1.2% y-o-y) and B17.3bn in generated revenue.
In contrast, most of other key European countries demonstrated declines in arrivals, including Germany (-3.5%), France (-2.5%), Finland and Sweden (-14.6%, 10.7% respectively).
However, arrivals from the UK increased by 3.4% and from Norway by 3%.
Overall arrivals from Europe totaled 886,324 (-1.7% y-o-y), tourism revenue falling 3.4%, to B63.2bn.
In its report for January 2019, the MoTS for the first time published statistics for separate Eastern European countries and some former Soviet republics. Three of them managed to break the 10,000-arrivals barrier, namely Poland (22,230 arrivals, +13/2% y-o-y), Kazakhstan (13,777 arrivals, +5.6%) and Ukraine (15,530 arrival, +20.4%).
Tourists from over the Pacific Ocean are still interested in Thai beaches and islands as well with over 116,908 arrivals registered from the US (+6.52%) and 33,628 (+3.85%) from Canada.
Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand keep balancing between stagnation and decline with 70,799 (-1.5%) and 8,921 (-5.7%) arrivals registered in January respectively.
While many of the traditional markets are in decline, India keeps showing some impressive growth, bolstering expectations that India can become the top of tourist source market for Thailand in the coming years. According to MoTS, 163,794 Indian nationals visited Thailand in January (+24.9% y-o-y), spending some B7.3bn (+26.5%). In December, India demonstrated similar results with 167,694 arrivals (+20.2%) and B7.7bn of revenue (+26.2%).
For the whole of 2019, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is forecasting 41.1mn foreign tourists (+7.5%), generating an estimated B2.21 trillion in tourism revenue (+10%). The forecast is based on a an expected 11.69mn tourists from China (+11%), 11.31m tourists from Asean countries (+10%), and 6.90mn visitors from Europe (+2%).
Published at The Phuket News on March 1, 2019