Tourism Statistics Thailand 2000-2021
Last update this page : November 2021.
See graph of quarterly arrivals updated at bottom of page.
The plan of the government as expressed by prime minister Prayut on 11 October 2021, it to open the country from 1 November 2021 for tourists from a selected number of countries. Originally people from a limited number of countries (later modified to more countries, divided into different categories) would be allowed into the country. Entry for visitors is conditional : only fully vaccinated persons, and a negative test for Covid before departure. Also on arrival or soon after a test for Covid will be arranged.
Visitors would otherwise be allowed to travel around the country (although we think some regions may be off-limit, if there are a lot of local Covid infection). Most importantly, there are no requirements for quarantine on arrival for vaccinated visitors from 46 countries (later more countries became elegible), as has been the case up to now. SEE HERE : Tourists Welcome
Tourism Statistics :
The number of tourists visiting Thailand increased from 35.35 million in 2017 to 38.28 million in 2018 and then 39.92 million in 2019. The increase in visitors from 2018 to 2019 was limited to 4.24 %, which actually was less than Thai authorities expected. The ever rising number of tourists to Thailand came to an abrupt end from March 2020 onwards. 2020 saw only a total of 6,702,396 tourists, almost all arriving in the first three months of the year. From March 2020 to end August 2020 no tourists were allowed in. Thereafter in the last three months of 2020 a total of 10,822 tourists arrived under very special stringent conditions. During the first two quarters of 2021 there were 40,447 visitors. Few people with their mental capabilities intact, would have considered coming to the country.
Lots of people in the hospitality sector lost their jobs and/or are in dire straits. Prospects for the remainder of 2021 remain very moderately optimistic, with as mentioned above 'opening' of the country as of 1 November.
Tourism plays an ever more important role in the Thai economy. The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC, recently renamed from NESDB) stated begin February 2019 that Tourism accounted for 18.4 % (or close to one fifth) of the GDP of Thailand. It has risen from a level in 14.2 % of GDP just four years earlier. Thailand expected ever more income from its tourism sector. It was never enough. However, as we know now, the Covid-19 pandemic put an end to the ever increasing tourist arrivals to the country.
A relatively recent development has been the ever increasing number of Chinese mainland visitors. They surpassed 10.5 million visitors in 2018, making up 27.5 % of the total. Their number increased further to 10.99 million in 2019, and the increased number of Chinese visitors was quite obvious on Bangkok's streets and in its shopping malls. At present since early 2020 up to now, the Chinese presence has disappeared, which seems to make for strikingly less visitors to shopping malls.
Short Update 2021 :
Tourist arrivals did not start in earnest at the beginning of 2021. In the mid and towards the end of 2020, there was hope that things would go back to normal, or something that people like to call the New Normal (God help us !) But is was not to be. The first quarter of 2020 saw a new wave of Covid-19 infections, a situation which worsened further during the second quarter with days of more than 10,000 infection, and/or more than 100 casualties. Prospects of millions arriving again in 2021, seem to have been abandoned. Nevertheless, while we are updated now, something called Phuket Sandbox is still operating, a scheme where foreign tourists are invited to visit Phuket Island under stringent conditions. There are few volunteers.
As for arrivals (mostly to Phuket now), a total of 20,172 and 20,275 tourists arrived in Thailand during the first quarter and second quarter of 2021 respectively. This was a drop of 99.4 % compared to 2020. Of this limited number of arrivals, 48.9 % and 35.8 % came from Europe during the first two quarters of the year. People could only come to Thailand under strict conditions (numerous Covid-19 tests, health certificates, quarantines, etc.). So few courageous (or ill informed) people came. A confounding factor was the low vaccination rate of the Thai population up to the middle of 2021. However, towards the end of October 2021 (just before the opening of the country) vaccination rates for both 1 injection and complete vaccination were 70-80 % of the adult population.
The third quarter of 2021 saw an increase to 45,398 arrivals, of which 44 % were Europeans, this despite a flare-up of the Covid-19 epidemic in Thailand (locally called the 'third wave')
Update 2020 :
The year 2020 saw some dramatic events around the world with the emergence of the Covid-19 (Corona virus) pandemic. It started in China and rapidly spread globally. Thailand's tourism sector is suffering a lot (as other tourism sectors around the world), starting in February-March 2020, and getting worse in the following months. This both related to countries not allowing citizens to travel, as well as Thailand not accepting international flights landing at its airports. You can get a summary of the first few months of 2020 at our dedicated page about the Corona Virus and its effect on Thai Tourism.at the beginning of the pandemic.
In any case, Tourist Arrivals dropped to 6,691 million in the first quarter of 2020, at drop from 10,795 million in the first quarter of 2019 (-38.01 %). However, worse was to come, and most of the drop in visitors occurred in March 2020, when just 819,429 tourists arrived, compared to 3,473,088 tourists in March 2019.(-76.41 %).
NO TOURISTS have arrived during both the 2nd and 3rd Quarter of 2020. In October (1,201), November (3.,065) and December (6,556) a total of 10,822 tourist arrived under special conditions. These included a variety of tests, a lot of documents, quarantine on arrival, which was not always a pleasant experience, costs for quarantine to be paid by the visitors etc.
The absence of tourists, especially Chinese tourists, is clearly visible on the streets, also at shopping malls, and even in the supermarkets. Quite some businesses depend on foreigers for a big chunk of their revenue (this also includesThailand's internationally oriented hospitals). We calculated that every month of absence of tourists, results in about a 1 % decrease in Thailand's GDP. Hopefully, this would not go on for months and months, but it did.