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basilofbarnes

How important are tourists for Thailand?

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An article about SARS said that tourism accounts for 6% of Thailand's GDP. This seems quite low to me. I am wondering whether tourists are not really a big issue for Thailand's economy, or whether the definition they use to calculate tourism's contribution to GDP is misleading.

 

If the true figure took into account all of the money that tourists spend during their time in the country, surely the figure would be higher?

 

Any ideas?

 

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Bas,

 

To be honest, I've long wondered exactly what it is that Thailand exports beyond great food, people and a few cheap knickknacks. OK, so Bangkok is a major financial centre for the region - big deal. Oh, there are a few factories outside BKK, and every second product I pick up in the supermarket is stamped 'Made in Thailand', but I'm sure it must be drugs that are the Kingdom's major export. Yeah, thats it : drugs and hookers.

 

Man, we could learn a lot from them here in Oz.

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I think that the importance of tourists is somewhat understated in that 5.9% figure.

 

Let me say first that as the NSO's "Tourist revenues as % of GDP" is not defined we are left to wonder at the precise methodology used to arrive at this figure. We may however make an educated guess.

 

TOT tells us that in 2001 there were 10.13 million international arrivals who stayed for an average of 7.93 days so we can take that as 80 million visitor-days.

 

NSO tells us that in 2001 the Thai GDP was 5.123 trillion baht and that "Tourist revenues" represented 5.8% or about 300 billion baht.

 

This suggests an average revenue of 3750 baht per tourist per day. or about US$85. This seems reasonable once you pull in whatever fractions are added by airtravel, ground transport, lodging, etc. even though the numbers are significantly diluted by border crossings of less well-heeled citizens of neighboring nations.

 

I would resist the Reaganesque term "trickle-down" but the indirect contributions of foreign visitors must be consider to far exceed 5.8%. Consider the state of affairs that would arise in the absence of all foreign tourism and a marked cutback in for business staffings. The hotel industry would collapse and many other segments would be gravely damaged. The internal travel market would suffer and pass its pain onto the fuels industry. All other "upscale" ventures would suffer as well particularly retail goods.

 

This is in large part due the fact that no welfare state exists in Thailand. When one meets hard times in the West the government helps and while ones spending power is reduced it does not generally entail a gross shift in social class or total loss of economic viability.

 

In Thailand if one is dislocated from employment one becomes economically non-viable and one can no longer stimulate the economy to any particular degree.

 

My guess is that tourist spending helps to prop up at least an additional 10% - 15% of the Thai economy by enabling spending by employees in those sectors. A significant loss of tourists for an extended period would probably begin a cascade effect of layoffs and economic stagnation.

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What I've noticed is that in Thailand (especially Bangkok) there are whole large segments of the economy that are specifically aimed at foreign tourists (and expats). It's difficult to imagine that many fancy restaurants and up-scale hotels, for example, could survive on domenstic consumption. This is different from the US (which I use as an example solely because I am American and know something about it), where there are plenty of Americans travelling domestically who stay in nice hotels and eat out at all sorts of restaurants. I'm not saying foreign tourists aren't important in the US, just that the lack of them seems unlikely to result in whole segments of service-oriented industries to be forced to shutter.

 

That 6% seems low to me but I'd be interested to see figures from other countries for comparison's sake.

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The figure I've heard quoted is 14%.

Are you sure that 14% is not the percentage of people involved in the tourist business rather than the percentage of GDP? Although tourist money only accounts for 6% of GDP does not mean it only pays 6% of the workers. Believe those involved in the tourist industry may be closer to that 14% mark.

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Says artiew:

Bas,

 

To be honest, I've long wondered exactly what it is that Thailand exports beyond great food, people and a few cheap knickknacks. OK, so Bangkok is a major financial centre for the region - big deal. Oh, there are a few factories outside BKK, and every second product I pick up in the supermarket is stamped 'Made in Thailand', but I'm sure it must be drugs that are the Kingdom's major export. Yeah, thats it : drugs and hookers.

 

Man, we could learn a lot from them here in Oz.

 

Having a bad day Artiew?

Not fair IMO

 

You read the papers last couple of weeks in Sydney?

Re: Raids on brothels?

Many Thai ladies brought here to work in restaurants and are met at Airport taken to a hotel and SOLD,to a brothel or shares in one lady and so on ..very sick and sad some were druged at the (meeting) as well.

Then have to work off 30 or 40 K AUD.

One lady arrested in Surry hills and taken to detention centre Died of withdrawl and not noticed by the authorities that she was un :drunk:well.

 

Sydney is not ...TIT

Drugs they are trying.

 

 

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It may depend on whether you are quoting figures for the Travel and Tourism Industry or the Travel and Tourism Economy.

Annual visitor spending is supposed to be around 6.1% of Thai GDP, though the tourism economy as a whole may be closer to the figure mentioned(14%).

 

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[color:"green"] An article about SARS said that tourism accounts for 6% of Thailand's GDP. [/color]

 

GDP is the wrong measure. It should be compared to Thai exports. Both bring in foreign currency (USD, Euros, etc.) that are needed to pay for oil, etc.

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