Revenue from foreign Tourists visiting Thailand, year 2017
How much money do visitors of different regions or countries spend in Thailand? Important parameters are the number of visitors per region or country, the days spent in Thailand, and the money spent per day of stay. These parameters vary somewhat widely between regions and less so within countries of one particular region.
We summarized the data per region. The reason is that there is little variation of length of stay, money spent per day, within each group. For example, the vast majority of visitors from Europe, whatever country they are coming from, spend between 2 and 3 weeks in Thailand. However, because of its size and increasing importance, the data for China are given, together with a 'Rest of East Asia' group, comprising Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Just to summarize some staggering numbers : At an average exchange rate of 33.94 Thai Baht for 1 U.S.Dollar, inbound tourism in Thailand earned a total of no less than 53.951 billion U.S. Dollar (or 1.831 trillion Thai baht) in 2017. Compared to 2016 this was an increase in dollar by 16.6 % and in Thai Baht by 11.2 % (Thai baht became stronger vs. the U.S. Dollar)
[All data as numbers provided by Department of Tourism, Thailand]
35,591,978 tourists travelled to Thailand in 2017. On average, they spend about 159 U.S. Dollar per day (or 5,404 baht per day by exchange rate of 2017)
The average tourist stays about nine and a half days in Thailand. However, length of stay varies substantially between regions for the following reasons :
1) Visitors from farther away stay longer. This makes sense, taking a 12 hour flight and then just staying a few days, is not a very rewarding experience. Europeans, Australians, Americans stay two weeks or longer.
2) Asians also have much less holiday days per year than Europeans. Therefore they often can only allow themselves shorter trips abroad.
How much do visitors from different countries spend per day. Interestingly this varies very little, though Europeans appear to be more 'stingy'.
Staying longer (like Europeans) makes visitors stay longer outside Bangkok, where things are less expensive (except if you holiday in fancy resorts). So the average money spend per day, tends to somewhat go down. Staying twice as long, does also not mean that you will buy twice as many souvenirs, or other shopping items.
Multiplying money spent per day with the number of days in the country, provides the following data. It is quite obvious that visitors from outside the Asean (closeby) region are much more valuable in money terms. Overall, visitors from outside Asia, spend much more money in Thailand, during their travel trips to the country. There may be more and more Chinese and Indian visitors, but still, Europeans, Australians and Americans spend at least 50 to 60% more per visitor, mainly because they stay longer.
So we arrive at the following. If you add up all the Asian visitors, together they bring in most of the tourist revenue. However, despite the fact that the number of arrivals from Europe (except for the Russians) may start to lag relatively (in proportion to the number of arrivals from Asian countries, particularly China), they still bring in a large chunk of revenue, and surely can not be neglected.
As mentioned before inbound tourists spent 53,951 billion U.S. Dollar (or 1.831 trillion Thai baht) in 2017.
The data for 2012, just five years before, show revenue of 983.928 billion Thai baht or 31.657 billion U.S Dollar (exchange rate 2012).
The World Bank lists 406.84 billion U.S. Dollar billion as the GDP number for Thailand in 2016. Inbound tourism revenue amounts to about 11.37 % of total GDP in that year.
Added note : Of course, Thai people also travel abroad. 6,794,327 Thais did so in 2015, spending a total of 5.839 billion U.S. Dollar (or 199.976 billion Thai baht).
How are these data gathered?
We honestly do not know, but they have been reported for many years. We assume, this is one of the reasons, that when changing money etc. one is obliged to show identification. We can only assume that as good as feasible, all these data are tabulated somewhere, and the expenditure per tourist and per country of origin, registered. Hotels can also gather revenue data and report them (?). Nevertheless, it would be wise to consider the data gathered as an approximation. Even if there are some errors, comparison between subsequent years, remains quite valuable.
Amazingly, the Department of Tourism, can also provide data on how the money is spent (see below for 2016 data). Total expenditure per tourist here is 5,238 baht per day. Shopping (1278 baht), entertainment (526 baht), sightseeing (200 baht), hotels (1530 baht), food and drinks (1049 baht), transport (526 baht) make up the bulk of this expenditure.
Interestingly, the money spent for accomodation, per day per person, means that most visitors acquire accommodation in 2 and 3-star hotels, rather than in fancy resorts.
People on package tours (9,164,326 travellers), spent on average 6,390 baht per day. People not on package tours (26,427,652 individual travellers) spent on average 5,165 baht per day (in 2017).
Data provided by , Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Thailand. In our experience you have to be able to peruse the data in the Thai language version, to get the latest updates.