Gorgeous beaches are a major draw for tourists. // 2013 © Tourism Authority of Thailand
Thailand is a consistent high achiever when it comes to inspiring tourists. In past years, Thailand was in the media spotlight for the wrong reasons, including civil unrest. Last year was a peaceful one for the Land of Smiles, and pent-up demand to visit the country resulted in impressive double-digit increases in visitation across the board.
In 2012, Thailand achieved record-breaking visitor arrivals, crossing the 22 million mark for the first time. Figures tabulated by the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports for January through December 2012 show that total arrivals reached 22,303,065 visitors — up 15.98 percent over 2011.
“We are overjoyed to have achieved this result in the year the people of Thailand commemorated the 85th birthday of His Majesty the King,” said Suraphon Svetasreni, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. “It is also a tribute to the cooperation and creativity of the entire Thai travel and tourism industry for the huge effort that has been made to ensure that travel and tourism remain a leading industry for job creation, distribution of income nationwide and contribution to culture, heritage and environmental preservation.”
Arrivals from the Americas showed a good growth of 13.40 percent to 1,080,148 people. The U.S. remains the main market in the Americas; it increased by 12.57 percent to 767,420. Arrivals from both Canada and Brazil showed positive growth of 12.18 percent and 22.18 percent, respectively. Svetasreni noted that the primary contributor to this result was the prevalence of global, regional and local peace and stability.
“Last year, the world was generally at peace and there were no major geopolitical, economic, environmental or natural disasters as well as no health pandemics,” said Svetasreni. “Travel and tourism can only flourish worldwide if the underlying conditions that support it remain free of disturbance and disruption. That is one of the most important lessons for the entire industry to learn.”
Another highlight of the results was the fact that six countries, five of which are within the Asia-Pacific region, are now producing more than one million annual visitor arrivals. These are Malaysia, China, Japan, Korea, India and Russia.