In 2019 the travel and tourism industry accounted for 20.1% of Thailand’s total economy, worth $106.5 billion, according to WTTC research.
As the country implemented severe border closers in 2020 to combat the impact of COVID-19, this share dropped to 8.4% as $64.8 billion was wiped off Thailand's GDP. Pre-pandemic, Thai air transport's five largest inbound markets were all within Asia, led by China which accounted for 28% of all arrivals.
Reflecting this, in November 2019 there were more than one million departure seats from China, dwarfing the second-highest number of 354,958 from second-largest market Japan. In November 2020 during the lockdown, the largest single market was 49,146 departure seats from Hong Kong. As Thailand’s borders re-open, ongoing restrictions in its key inbound markets mean that activity remains heavily subdued with the largest market now Singapore, offering 64,864 seats.
With China’s borders likely to remain closed until mid-2022, Thailand’s tourism industry will be hoping pent-up leisure demand in the winter season drives growth from Western Europe, Russia and North America.
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