Thailand: Tourism index up in Q4

The tourism confidence index in the fourth quarter still lagged behind the corresponding period prior to the pandemic, while the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) said tourism scams can be found everywhere.

Chamnan Srisawat, president of the TCT, said the tourism confidence index of the final quarter last year stood at 72, up by 7 points from the third quarter.

The index was derived from a survey of 740 tourism operators across Thailand between Nov 20 and Dec 14.

The index reflected weak tourism, as a reading below 100 indicated low confidence among the industry.

The confidence during the period improved due to the high season when most tourists visited the North, making its revenue reach 65% of that recorded prior to the pandemic. It became the best performer among all regions.

Malaysian school holidays in December and January also stimulated tourism growth in the South.

With positive factors remaining in January, the TCT estimates that the confidence index in the first quarter would also increase to 77.

Among all types of tourism businesses, spa and massage operators reported the highest confidence in the fourth quarter at 85, followed by tours and transportation at 82 and 72, respectively, mainly attributed to an influx of 5 million tourists in the final quarter, an increase from 3.6 million in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, entertainment venues came up with the lowest confidence at 61 due to the slowest rate of recovery and high operating costs.

The TCT found that 91% of all operators returned to business in the final quarter, up from 87% in the third quarter. The reopening rate was also expected to recover to 92% in the first quarter.

Most tourism operators earned about 60% of pre-Covid revenue during the final quarter and this was expected to improve to 64% in the first quarter this year.

He said the most pressing issue was the labour shortage, with 560,000 positions needing to be filled in the fourth quarter.

Due to ongoing controversies involving Thai police, Mr Chamnan said he was not unduly concerned because such incidents were not relatively a big deal compared to cases in other countries.

“I’ve been to many countries and could say that travelling in Thailand was the easiest. Our tourism image should not be severely impacted because we can find similar scams against tourists around the world, not only in Thailand,” he said.

Mr Chamnan said it’s not the TCT’s duty to punish those who commit crimes but tourism operators should report such incidents and should also offer better services to preserve a good impression.