Generating more than $7 trillion annually and employing about one in 11 of the world’s citizens, it is no wonder that the global competition for international travellers is fierce.
One top-league player, Thailand, a long favorite with students and budget tourists for its good weather and warm, welcoming people, exotic temples, white sand beaches, parties on the beach and nightclubs, the buzz of Bangkok and upcountry adventures, will welcome nearly 32 million arrivals this year, putting it in the top 10 worldwide.
The numbers are being powered by growth from virtually all markets, officials told Forbes.com during an exclusive interview at the International Luxury Travel Mart (ILTM) in Cannes.
Chinese visitors are up by about 30%; Russian travellers have come back; and American visits increased by 12%. Many European countries were at double digits or near that. In an effort to drive new markets in 2017, Thailand will try to tap into Eastern Canada and Brazil by opening tourism promotion offices in Toronto and Sao Paolo.
Perhaps more interesting is that while the growth continues, pure visitor numbers are no longer seen as good enough. While Thailand still offers amazing value, it now has become a hotspot for luxury with more five-star resorts, spas, and hotels as well as a becoming a center for medical tourism, wellness, and haven for yachties.