Thailand is very well known for its hospitality industry, both for business or leisure travel. There are modern cities in Thailand, such as Bangkok, as well as paradise beaches, such as Pattaya. It seems that you would never feel bored if you have a chance to explore this exotic and friendly country.
Thailand had gone through hardships historically which made the country culturally richer. In this report, I will discuss the evolution, the growth, and struggles of tourism industry in Thailand. Though Thailand has faced with numerous adversities throughout its history, the future of this country is brighter than ever before.
The evolution of tourism
During 1960s, Thailand became a tourist hotpot because of Vietnam War. Due to the stable political atmosphere, many US soldiers and veterans visited Thailand for Rest and Recuperation (R&R).
However, Vietnam War was not the only reason that Thailand began to function as a star in the hospitality industry. Many other factors induced Thailand to become more and more popular. The reasons are as follows:
1. The favorable geographic position and the stable political condition of Thailand.
Besides support from the US, Thailand had very stable political atmosphere, and Bangkok functioned as an international air hub during the Vietnamese War.. The good geographic position and condition of Thailand itself brought a lot of demand.
2. International mass tourism had increased rapidly during the same period.
At the same time, global economy had grown steadily. People had more money and time than ever before. Moreover, technology and all the other relevant conditions were improved. People not only had money and time, they also were able to travel further, cheaper, and faster.
The demand increased rapidly and boosted growth of Thailand’s hospitality industry.
Stable Growth with Many Competitions
The flourishing period in tourism of Thailand was not only a nine day’s wonder. After the initial period, Thailand tourism grew stably. Tourist numbers had grown more than ten percent per year from 1980 to 1987. From 1967 to 2007, the number of international tourists had increased by 360 percent.. Not only international tourists loved to visit Thailand, domestic tourism bloomed as well.
Meanwhile, tourism industry in Thailand was not always growing smoothly without any obstacle. People who enjoyed travelling in Thailand were mainly drawn by its unique Asian culture. However, during 1980s and 1990s, since Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam opened their tourism markets as well, Thailand faced increasing challenges and competition with those countries.
In order to attract people to visit Thailand continuously and compete with those countries, Thailand began to target various niche markets, such as golf holidays, or medical treatment trip. Besides, in 2000, Leonardo Dicaprio made a film shooting in Maya Bay. This probably was one of the best and effective advertising for Thailand tourism during this period.
The Struggle with Natural and Man-made Disaster
Unfortunately, it is impossible that Thailand tourism be flourishing forever.
In 2004, tsunami blew Thailand hospitality industry seriously and killed over 5,000 people, half of whom were tourists.
After Thailand recovered from the short disaster, Thailand faced a coup d’etat in 2006. Though the coup was short, international travelers became less willing to travel to Thailand due to the unstable political environment. After the coup, the political environment remained unstable, and UDD and PAD opposed to each other for a long time with even occupying street and government armed suppression. This conflict continued till 2010.
In 2009, H1N1 and the recession impacted the hospitality industry seriously. To make matters worse, flood attacked Thailand in 2011, and it took a while for the country to recover from the disaster. Few days ago, there were two bombings in a busy area of Bangkok.
Thailand still has its charming features to attract tourist. However, how to recover from the continuous disasters might be the priority to restore its tourism industry to life.