Market monitor: Thailand at a glance

Thailand business travel outlook: Experts expect Thailand’s economic growth to slow from 4.1% in 2018 to 2.9% in 2019 and 3% in 2020. Business travel spending will grow 5.8% for next three years.

Business travel spending is forecast to grow 5.8% a year through 2023.

Companies spent almost US$14 billion on business trips to, from and within Thailand in 2018. Travel from abroad accounted for 57% of all spending; domestic travel accounted for 32%. Between 2013 and 2018, spending expanded 5.5% per year, on average. Outbound travel grew 25%, while inbound travel expanded a little more than 1%. Spending on domestic trips increased by 11% per year. Through 2023, business travel spending is forecast to grow 5.8% a year—breaking down to 7% for inbound, 3% for outbound and 5.3% growth for domestic trips.

Gain insights on markets around the world with BCD Travel’s 2020 Industry Forecast.

Economic environment

Economic growth and business travel spending

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  • A gross domestic product of more than US$507 billion makes Thailand the 26th-largest economy in the world and the seventh-largest Asian economy, behind Taiwan. Thailand’s economy is twice the size of the Hong Kong or Singapore economies.
  • Economic growth is weakening because of the U.S.-China trade dispute and waning domestic consumer spending and fixed investments.
  • The Bank of Thailand has cut interest rates and announced a US$10 billion fiscal stimulus package.
  • Oxford Economics expects Thailand’s economic growth to slow from 4.1% in 2018 to 2.9% in 2019 and 3% in 2020.
  • The military plays an important role in the country’s politics, which could limit government influence over economic activity.

Air

International travel

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  • International arrivals accounted for three-quarters of trips made to Thailand in 2018.
  • Between 2013 and 2018, both inbound and outbound travel expanded by 7.5% per year.
  • Chinese travelers to Thailand account for 29% of visits and rising. South Korea and Laos are emerging as new sources of tourism.
  • Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar are the most popular destinations for Thai tourists.
  • Thai Airways lost market leadership to low-cost carrier Thai AirAsia, the biggest airline in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Chiang Rai.
  • Foreign-backed LCCs, which also include Thai Lion Air and Thai VietJet, account for 49% of passengers carried on Thai airlines.

Accommodation

Hotel demand

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  • Between 2013 and 2018, total demand for hotel accommodation increased by almost 30% to 489 million room nights. International travelers accounted for 53% of the market.
  • Through 2023, hotel demand is expected to expand 3.1% per year, with international at 4.3% and domestic at 1.7% growth.
  • Chinese travelers accounted for almost a quarter of the rooms occupied by international travelers in 2018, up from 14% in 2013.
  • Malaysia, Germany, the U.K., Russia, Japan and the U.S. each account for about 5% of international room nights.
  • Market-leading international chain Accor has almost twice as many hotels as second-place Marriott. It offers all service tiers except economy.
  • Third-place Centara Hotels & Resorts is the largest local chain. Its upper midscale to upscale properties are available in 14 destinations across the country.

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