Thailand is well-known as one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. With millions of visitors from different nationalities and religions, Thailand upholds its name as the Land of Smiles and Treasure of friendliness. And, with such global appeal, who visits Thailand the most?
The number of tourists visiting Thailand each year has exceeded 39 million. The top three tourists come from the regions of East Asia, ASEAN, and Europe. The majority of tourists are Chinese, accounting for over 11 million tourists in 2019. This is followed by Japan, South Korea, and India.
The number of tourists doubled from 2010 to 2015, making it only more possible for the tourist industry to flourish further in the next few years. With unique culture and respect for all people of various backgrounds, the country also became home to many.
Which Nationality Visits Thailand the Most?
With an increase in tourism over the last two decades, Thailand has also seen an increase in Asian, particularly Chinese visitors. At the start of its tourism industry, Thailand had around 15.94 million visitors in 2010. By 2015, that number had doubled to 29.92 million. As of now, there are 39.2 million visitors- an increase of 4.24% since the last year (4).
The list of popularity, as follows, names the countries from first to last in terms of tourist popularity: East Asia, ASEAN, Europe, America, South Asia, Oceania, Middle East, and Africa. From this list, East Asia recorded to have had over 16 million tourists in 2019 alone. ASEAN has over 10 million, while the rest can be shown by the graph provided below (4).
Thailand Tourism Statistics:
According to this list, East Asia, ASEAN, and Europe are the top visitors while people of other nationalities have a much lower number difference, of more than 5 million people. Traditionally, Thailand has always been a second home to Chinese visitors; with long-lasting friendliness between both countries and common cultural normalities, it is only just that both support each other’s tourist industries.
Chinese tourists were estimated to be around 11 million in 2019, making 27.6% of that year’s total tourism (4). Behind China is Malaysia in second place, closely followed by Japan, South Korea, and then India – at 2 million visitors every year (4).
In terms of Europe, Russians are the most popular, with 1.5 million visitors. Thailand even sees a huge increase in tourists from Laos and Cambodia. Other countries on the tourist list include the U.K., Singapore, USA, Germany, Vietnam, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Taiwan (4).
All research can be used to predict what tourists will be coming to visit Thailand in the years to come. It is mostly expected that tourists from India will soon outgrow Chinese visitors, surpassing it at a ratio of 38.56:91.99% (4). It is further expected that Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia will even surpass Chinese visitors (4). This is mainly due to the increase in visitors in those countries between 2015-2019.
On the downside, visitors from some countries are decreasing even further, or staying at the same percentage. For example, the number of Australians visiting Thailand decreased by 4.63% in the last four years (3). Additionally, the number of visitors from Singapore is no longer rising. This means that Thailand must find ways to re-attract visitors from these countries (4).
Friendship With Other Countries
Being the center of tourism in Southeast Asia, Thailand has been close to celebrating its 75 years of history in the business. Tourism in Thailand contributes to 9-10% of the total GDP, making it rise to over 30 million foreign tourists within a single year (4). The region is a unique place to visit, absorbed in rich tradition and culture. Additionally, Thailand is home to a modern and western lifestyle which further attracts tourists from all over the world.
One of the most popular tourist groups in Thailand is the Chinese. Over the last few decades, millions of Chinese have visited Thailand, making up more than 25% of the number of tourists in the region (3). In the first quarter, Chinese tourists were provided tourist-bound tours at lower prices.
Thailand and China’s friendship goes back to ancient times of the Western Han Dynasty (2). In the 10th century, both countries had communicated for over 2000 years and worked together through China-Thailand relations in politics, economics, and cultural exchanges (2).
Thailand’s relationship with China is also very strong due to shared cultural morals. The vast amount of food in Thai street food is influenced by Chinese immigrants, while the cooking of the Centre Region traces back to Chinese heritage. Both countries also affirm cultural exchanges in education, science, technology and promote knowledge for the digital industry (2).
Another popular tourist group is Malaysia. They make up the largest tourist group of ASEAN, with over 3 million visitors in 2016 alone. Close relations between both countries and the promotion of Thailand and its tourist attractions across ASEAN areas have played a significant role in the increase of Malaysian tourists. (1)
The Malaysia-Thailand Friendship Association (MFTA) is a non-profit organization aimed at uniting both countries and thus increasing social ties.
Russia is a leading western country that sends over 1 million tourists to Thailand each year since recorded in 2019 (1). Both countries have had long-term and close relations since Russians have been visiting Thailand and its historical arrears for several decades.
Both countries participate in the Treaty of Friendship and Maritime Navigation, ensuring that there are partners of 120 years of diplomatic relations (3). Thailand is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia to have relations with Russia, thus the reason why both countries find the need to discover each other.
South Korea and Thailand also have bilateral relations; Thailand is considered the best tourist destination for South Koreans (1). They make up for 6% of the foreign tourists in Thailand, at about 1.5 million visitors in 2016 (1).
It is expected that Thailand will put forward more packages and impose friendly relationships with more countries in the future. The market is well experienced in creating a good image for the country, initiating a Thainess campaign with the slogan “Amazing Thailand” to increase tourism even further (1).
One of the essential components of having a good annual tourist rate is creating more opportunities for other countries to invest in Thailand companies and businesses, making them more famous.
Thailand is Eager for Foreign Tourists
Thailand has always been eager for foreign tourists. With its beautiful sceneries, delicious cuisines, and friendliness of locals, it is only fortunate that the region opens its home to people from all over the world. Full of hospitality, Thailand has always been eager to host people of different nationalities and backgrounds. However, since the pandemic has brought difficulty, Bangkok is working to become the capital of holiday getaway locations.
According to Prime Minister Prayut, the rise of COVID cases has increased because tourism must open to selected countries. In order to resume tourist business, the prime minister has initiated a careful plan. (5). The reality check is that Thailand must adapt to housing foreigners and people of various backgrounds. Because Thailand is close to China and India by religion and nature, everyone wants to visit their respective countries.
Thailand truly depends on its welcoming of foreigners as a door opening to success. With patience, Thailand has significantly welcomed people from so many countries that it seems impossible to stop. The country depends on foreigners as they allow the transmission of cultural representation and Thai traditions to grow at a faster phase. Without international relations and friendliness, Thailand can not flourish in one of its most popular advantages- the beauty of the tourism industry.
In conclusion, Thailand is home to millions of tourists worldwide, making it a top destination for any one of a different nationality, race, or religion. With this exclusivity has also come the building of new attractions for these people. For example, Chinese temples, masjids, and Hindu community centers.
At the moment, East Asia, ASEAN, and Europe have the highest visitors in Thailand, creating a safe space for tourists to grow mutual understanding with Thai locals and their identity. One of the biggest factors of the tourist industry is the friendliness of that country to its neighbors.
Thailand gains the biggest advantage from being kind and welcoming to people of different cultures and giving them the chance to learn about theirs, thus allowing their business to grow- something that requires the need of foreigners. As time goes on and the pandemic comes to an end, Thailand will continue to strive for economic prosperity and global recognition- something that all unique cultures deserve in the long run.
Like always, if you want to learn more about Thailand, stay with ThaiGuider. You might discover something you never knew about this unique country.
1. Chepkemoi, Joyce. Tourist Arrivals In Thailand By Country. WorldAtlas. [Online] August 1, 2017. www.worldatlas.com/articles/tourist-arrivals-in-thailand-by-country.html/.
2. China Embassy. Carry Forward China-Thailand Traditional Friendship And Set Example For New Type of International Relations. China Embassy. [Online] July 4, 2018. http://www.chinaembassy.or.th/eng/sgxw/201807/t20180704_10149023.htm/.
3. Embassy Of The Russian Federation. 120th Anniversary Of The Establishment Of Diplomatic Relations Between Russia And Thailand. EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION. [Online] [Cited: December 19, 2021.] thailand.mid.ru/en/10-menu-items/2601-120th-anniversary-of-the-establishment-of-diplomatic-relations-between-russia-and-thailand/.
4. Sports, Ministry of Tourism and. Tourist Arrivals To Thailand by Nationality In 2019. Thai Websites. [Online] [Cited: December 19, 2021.] https://www.thaiwebsites.com/tourists-nationalities-Thailand.asp/.
5. Zsombor Peter. Thai Businesses Eager For Foreign Tourists’ Imminent Return . VOA News. [Online] October 30, 2021. https://www.voanews.com/a/thai-businesses-eager-for-foreign-tourists-imminent-return-/6291916.html/.