A month ago we reported that tourist arrivals in Thailand had surged by 38% year-on-year in July. That number was based on information provided by the Thai tourism minister and quoted by the Bangkok Post.
As usual, the Department of Tourism has been somewhat slow in publishing more detailed visitor statistics for the months of June and July. In fact, they were uploaded to their website just a bit over a week ago and, guess what, the numbers are even better than those quoted by the tourism minister.
Arrival numbers in July actually surged by 39.38% while tourist arrivals in June increased by a staggering 53.06% year-on-year. As we commented last month, the “sad situation on the ground is obviously in stark contrast with the record numbers of tourist arrivals Thailand is seeing this year.”
But first, let’s have a look at the details. Here’s June:
While total tourist arrivals were up 53.06% year-on-year this was mostly due to a sharp increase in arrival numbers from China. In fact, the number of Chinese visitors surged by a whopping 187.03% from 220.497 last year to 632.889 in 2015. Arrival numbers from Vietnam (up 119.60% year-on-year), Hong Kong (106.37%) and Taiwan (92.77%) also grew substantially.
Tourist arrivals from North and South America were up 28.80% in June. Most significantly, the number of visitors from the United States rose by 29.64% year-on-year. Arrivals from South Asia soared by 16.06%, with the number of visitors from India rising by 23.25% year-on-year to nearly 100,000 in June. The number of Australian tourists also grew slightly (5.30%).
On the downside, the number of visitors from the Middle East was down 7.99% and arrivals from Europe decreased by 1.66%. As in previous months, tourist numbers only from Russia were down 34.54%. In fact, in comparison with the combined number of nearly one million visitors from China and East Asia that flooded Thailand this June, the combined 271.791 visitors from Europe (that includes 64.806 only from the UK) were nothing but a welcome icing on a massive East Asian cake.
Now let’s have a look at July:
While total tourist arrivals were up 39.38% year-on-year this was again mostly due to a sharp increase in arrival numbers from China that surged by 115.37% from 360.231 in 2014 to 775.829 this year. Arrival numbers from Taiwan (up 95.48% year-on-year), Vietnam (82.43%) and Hong Kong (65.39%) also grew substantially.
Tourist arrivals from North and South America were also up 21.13% in June, with the number of visitors from the United States rising by 21.95% year-on-year. Arrivals from South Asia saw an even sharper increase (31.70%), with the number of visitors from India only rising by 25.69% year-on-year. The number of Australian tourists also grew slightly (5.30%). For some reason, arrival numbers from the Middle East that had slightly declined in June again soared by a staggering 75.15% in July.
Most like due to school holidays in summer, arrivals from Europe also increased by 5.39%, with 80.449 visitors only from the United Kingdom. As in previous months, tourist numbers from Russia however continued to decrease and were down 35.74% year-on-year. Also, the combined 409.042 visitors from Europe still paled beside the more than 1.14 million tourists from China and East Asia that continued to flood Thai destinations in July.
The tourism situation in Pattaya is obviously but a mere reflection of the overall situation in Thailand. Walking Street has degenerated to some kind of night-time tourist attraction for predominantly Chinese tour groups, while bars and restaurants in most parts of town, except for on Soi Buakhao perhaps, are empty and struggling to make it through the low season.
As we commented last month (and there’s nothing really we could add),
the undisputed driving force behind these record arrival numbers are the Chinese.
Ironically, the dominance of the Chinese and their “consumer behaviour” also explain the ostensible gap between tourist arrivals on paper and the tourism situation on the ground. No, there is no mismatch between an undeniable tourism boom and the worst-ever “low season” at the same time. And that’s a sad observation to make.