A projection suggests the metaverse could contribute US$11-21 billion per year to the Thai economy by 2035, according to research conducted by London-based consultancy Deloitte.
In a report entitled "Metaverse in Asia – Strategies for Accelerating Economic Impact", which surveyed 12 economies in Asia-Pacific, the metaverse was estimated to account for 1.3-2.4% of Thailand's GDP by 2035.
As for Asia-Pacific, the net contribution of the metaverse to overall GDP could amount to $1.28 trillion per year by 2031, according to the report.
"The metaverse is inevitable. Developing the technology stacks, human capital and regulatory frameworks to realise Asia's trillion-dollar metaverse potential will benefit a wide range of industries and economic activities," said Duleesha Kulasooriya, managing director at Center for the Edge, Deloitte Southeast Asia.
Once fully scaled, the metaverse is expected to create new markets, business and employment opportunities, as well as improve the way people work, consume and collaborate, says Deloitte.
Retail, manufacturing, healthcare, education and the creative industries such as gaming and entertainment are among the sectors in which early adoption of the metaverse is expected.
Several metaverse projects are growing from the entrepreneurial business sector in Thailand. Factors that support businesses investing in metaverse ventures include the country's strong technological foundation and high level of connectivity among consumers, who top global rankings in terms of weekly online purchases, cryptocurrency ownership and mobile banking app usage.
"The metaverse presents a new platform to generate value from Thailand's combination of creative, entrepreneurial and technological talents," said Narain Chutijirawong, executive director of Clients & Markets at Deloitte Thailand.
"Businesses in Thailand are in an ideal position to leverage unique opportunities the metaverse will provide, leading to unique customer experiences and benefits to the organisation, economy and society as a whole."
The report revealed that Thailand has undertaken regulatory reforms in areas related to metaverse activities, which includes crypto-friendly tax rules, personal data protection and cybersecurity, as digital growth is essential to the country's targets to fulfil economic prosperity under the Thailand 4.0 strategy.
According to Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, digital economy and society minister, the government has developed wireless broadband to drive the country forward to benefit from the advent of virtual reality, metaverse technology and the next evolution of the digital economy.
Tourism and creative services are the key sectors in Thailand that could be enhanced by the metaverse, the report found.
With these sectors comprising roughly 18% of GDP annually before the pandemic, leveraging immersive experiences in the metaverse could strengthen Thailand's attraction to a wider number of international tourists.
In addition, the creative sector contributed 10% of Thai GDP in 2021, exceeding Asia's average of 3.5%. The country has demonstrated technological capabilities through tokenisation to attract new sources of funding for creative projects like movies.
"The successful future of the metaverse calls for action not just by governments, but all ecosystem actors. While the metaverse is still in an early form, it is a good time for businesses and players to experiment, find their edge in the metaverse, and identify opportunities to scale these edges," said Mr Kulasooriya.