Fewer tourists are going to Thailand because of its expensive currency

Thailand’s tourism minister has blamed a surge in the baht for sapping tourist arrivals into Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, and says he’ll take up the matter with the central bank, highlighting rising concern over the currency’s gains.

Arrivals have dropped because of the baht’s strength, Piphat Ratchakitprakarn, minister of tourism and sports, told reporters in Bangkok after he officially began his new role. Piphat said he’d discuss with the Bank of Thailand and the finance minister what can be done to help support the industry. 

Thailand’s currency is among the strongest in emerging markets over the past 12 months, and the jump has been a headwind for an economy that’s also being hurt by the fall-out from global trade tensions. The central bank has signalled its concern about the advance, and on Wednesday Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said he’s tracking the currency closely and is prepared to act.

“The Thai baht’s strength is part of the reason why the number of tourists has dropped, as those who come would get less money from their currencies to spend,” Piphat said on Thursday. “Tourism is considered to be one of our country’s main revenue drivers. I will do everything I can to make sure that arrivals increase and more revenue is generated than before.”

Costlier kingdom

Piphat’s aim to boost the number of arrivals contrasts with the view from his predecessor, Weerasak Kowsurat, who said Thailand should care less about increasing of quantity of travellers and focus instead on improving sustainable tourism to mitigate environmental impacts caused by too many visitors.

Vital role

Tourism is a key component of the economy, accounting for about a fifth of gross domestic product by some measures. Piphat said he was sticking to a recently-lowered target of 39.9 million arrivals but declined to comment on whether Thailand could hit its goal for 3.2 trillion baht in receipts this year. Arrivals in June fell to 2.9 million from 3.03 million a year earlier.

“I will have to speak with the finance minister and the central bank governor on what to do,” Piphat said.

The concern about the baht’s trajectory comes amid a political transition, with the military-led administration that’s been in power for five years giving way this week to a civilian government, albeit one still headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a former general who led a coup.

Piphat also said he wanted to tackle tourists’ concerns about safety, and to promote the industry across the entire nation. “Right now the most urgent item on the agenda is creating faith among tourists that Thailand is a safe country,” he said, adding: “We must encourage tourism in all 77 provinces.”

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.24
+0.1%
Rand - Pound
19.67
+0.8%
Rand - Euro
16.70
+0.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.52
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.5%
Gold
1,790.80
+0.1%
Silver
20.42
+0.6%
Palladium
2,268.50
-0.9%
Platinum
956.50
-0.5%
Brent Crude
99.60
+2.2%
Top 40
64,215
-0.6%
All Share
70,935
-0.5%
Resource 10
64,311
-2.3%
Industrial 25
86,885
-0.2%
Financial 15
16,087
+0.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders