Skift Take

Thailand tourism is driving the fastest growth in the country's economy in five years, highlighting how dependent the nation is on tourism.

Tens of thousands of revellers, including hordes of foreign tourists sporting floral shirts and plastic water guns, descended on the streets of Bangkok on Thursday for the biggest traditional new year gathering since the pandemic.

Festivities for Songkran, a much-loved Thai festival sometimes described as the world’s largest water fight, had been muted or barred for the past few years due mainly to COVID-19 restrictions. A

But as travellers now return to Thailand, the key tourism sector is helping revive Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

Revellers – many of them soaked to the skin – walked through a half-kilometre (0.3 miles) long stretch in Bangkok’s tourist hub of Khaosan Road, indiscriminately firing water guns and dancing to music blaring from kerbside establishments.

“It’s a multiple-day, city-wide water fight,” said Jared Baumeister, a lawyer from New York, who flew into Bangkok this week to join the festivities.

“I don’t know where elseĀ in the world you’d get this,” he said while holding a multi-coloured water gun and sipping a beer.

Thailand beat its target of 6 million tourist arrivals in the first quarter, recording 6.15 million visitors between January and late March, according to government data.

At least 30 million tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year and spend 1.5 trillion baht ($43.74 billion), according to projections by the Tourism Council, an industry body.

Businesses expect tourist numbers to rise as summer approaches.

“Income is skyrocketing,” said Khanti Wichan, manager of ReRe Restaurant, who has worked on Khaosan Road for almost a decade.

A strong recovery in the tourism sector will a key driver for Thailand’s economy – which has bounced back slower from the pandemic than other Southeast Asian nations – to grow by as much as 4% this year, the fastest rate in five years.

(Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

This article was written by Devjyot Ghoshal from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: economy, southeast asia, thailand

Photo credit: People celebrating in Thailand. Source: Reuters

Up Next

Loading next stories