Global tourism rankings: Thailand falls

Thailand drops in gloTourism is becoming a bigger part of international trade reaching $1.5 trillion in 2014 with income from hotel, transport food and drink and shopping all contributing to the total. bal tourism rankings

Foreign tourists are the main customers of many businesses on Koh Samui. Thailand last year received about 24 million tourists. However, its global tourism ranking slipped to 14th place in 2014 from 10th place in 2013. THANARAK KHUNTON


Thailand drops in global tourism rankings

Politics, sluggish economies blamed
Boonsong Kositchotethana

Thailand's position in the global tourism rankings declined last year as the civil unrest has taken its toll on both arrivals and receipts.

The Land of Smiles saw its status on the world's international tourist arrival chart slip to 14th last year from 10th in 2013.

The 2014 tourism earnings chart also saw Thailand drop to ninth from seventh a year ago, according to new figures from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (See website here and glossary of tourism terms here).

Thailand's 2014 international arrivals fell 6.7% from 2013 to 24.8 million.

Its 2014 tourism receipts contracted 8.1% to US$38.4 billion from $41.8 billion in 2013.

The 10th position in arrivals was taken over by Mexico last year with a record 29.1 million people.

In terms of international receipts, Thailand's 2013 ranking of seventh was assumed by Britain in 2014 with $45.3 billion.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said the political stand-off in the early part of last year coupled with the May 22 coup and the sluggish economies of Thailand's main tourism markets such as Russia, Japan and Europe caused tourists to delay their trips here.

World Tourism

Global receipts from international visitors spending on accommodation, food and drink, entertainment, shopping and other services and goods reached a record $1.25 trillion in 2014, an increase of $48 billion, up 3.7% in real terms (taking into account exchange rate fluctuations and inflation), the UNWTO said, citing preliminary figures.

An additional $221 billion was generated from international passenger transport, bringing total exports from international tourism up to $1.5 trillion.

International tourist arrivals (for the whole world) increased by 4.4% last year, reaching 1.14 billion, up from 1.09 billion in 2013.

Aside from international tourism receipts (travel balance of payments), tourism also generates export earnings through international passenger transport services (rendered to non-residents). The latter amounted to $21 billion in 2014, bringing total exports from international tourism up to $1.5 trillion, or $4 billion a day on average.

"International tourism is an increasingly significant component of international trade as seen in export earnings from international tourism and passenger transport, which reached $1.5 trillion in 2014," UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said.

"With decreasing commodity prices, spending on international tourism grew significantly in 2014, proving the sector's capacity to stimulate economic growth, boost exports and create jobs." 

International tourism (travel and passenger transport) represents 30% of the world's exports of services and 6% of overall exports of goods and services.

As a worldwide export category, tourism ranks fourth after fuels, chemicals and food but ranks first in many developing countries.

International tourism receipts grew in all regions. Europe, which accounts for 41% of international tourism receipts, saw an increase in tourism earnings in absolute terms of $17 billion to $509 billion.

Asia and the Pacific, which make up 30% of the total, saw an increase of $16 billion, reaching $377 billion. In the Americas, claiming a 22% share, receipts increased by $10 billion to $274 billion.

In the Middle East (4% share), tourism earnings rose by an estimated $4 billion to $49 billion, while in Africa (3% share) they rose by $1 billion to $36 billion.

By subregion, northern Europe, southern and Mediterranean Europe, East Asia, Oceania, South Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, South America and the Middle East showed the fastest growth in relative terms, all recording 5% growth or more in receipts.

In terms of tourism earnings, China climbed to third place from fifth following a 10% increase in earnings to $57 billion in 2014. The US at $177 billion and Spain at $65 billion maintained first and second place in the rankings.

Britain ($45 billion) moved up two positions to seventh, boosted by the lasting effects of the Olympics and the appreciation of the pound (increasing receipts calculated in US-dollar terms).

France, Macau and Italy occupy fourth to sixth, while Germany, Thailand and Hong Kong complete the top 10.

In terms of outbound tourism, the world's top spender China continued its exceptional pace of growth with a 28% increase in expenditures last year, reaching a total of $165 billion. The two other major emerging markets in the top 10 lost strength as Russia fell 6% and ranked fifth, while Brazil gained 2% and placed 10th.

The world's second-largest spender, the US, posted a 7% increase. Britain spent 4% more and moved from fourth to fifth in the ranking.

France increased expenditures by 11%, retaining sixth place, while Italy spent 6% more, climbing to ninth from eighth. Germany was third, Canada seventh and Australia ninth to round out the remaining places in the top 10.

About the author

Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer