Commentary: Thailand’s hopes to boost economy with tourists take a hit after Bangkok shooting

Chinese tourists have played an important role in Thailand’s tourism industry in recent years. Before the pandemic, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand had risen significantly, reaching 11.14 million in 2019 and accounting for approximately US$17 billion in tourism receipts.

But China’s zero-covid policy has led to a sharp decline in tourist arrivals. This number fell to 1.25 million in 2020 (almost all in January) and just 13,043 in 2021.

This created a vacuum that the Thai tourism industry sought to fill by diversifying its sources of tourists.

Attracts Indian tourists to Thailand

It was during the pandemic that India emerged as the most active and reliable source of tourists to Thailand.

A turning point was the easing of travel restrictions for foreign tourists in 2022. In the first eight months of the year, Indian arrivals (444,136) surpassed Chinese arrivals (105,860) for the first time.

Notably, Thailand has become an attractive destination for Indian weddings held outside India. These extravagant celebrations, often in luxurious resorts, provided a significant boost to tourism revenue, with costs ranging from 10 million baht to 30 million baht (US$274,000 to US$823,000).

Ram Sachdev, head of the Thailand Indian Wedding Association, expressed concern to the Nikkei newspaper in 2022 about the focus on the quantity, rather than the quality, of Indian tourist weddings. He pointed out that as Indian weddings are held all over the world, Thailand can protect them by providing essential support and encouragement.

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