China is currently the largest tourism market of Thailand, with about 10 million tourists visiting the Southeast Asian nation in 2018. However, the number of Chinese visitors is declining.

Long-tail boat on the white beach at Phuket, Thailand. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In contrast, Indian arrivals accelerated in recent months thanks to more direct flights, a visa fee waiver and, most importantly, increasing wealth in the growing middle-class.

At least 10 million are now expected to arrive annually by 2028, a more than five-fold increase on last year’s visits.

Although China remains an important market of Thailand, India is set to become the new expansion story in Thai tourism.

Chinese visitors currently make up 28 percent of total foreign arrivals, well ahead of Indians at 4 percent. But within a decade, Indian arrivals are forecast to surge to about 15 percent of the total, while Chinese are predicted to edge up to about 30 percent.

Tourism has been an economic driver for Thailand over the past decade. Last year the country welcomed over 38 million arrivals, a year-on-year rise of 7.5 percent, contributing more than THB2 trillion of income. Combined with domestic travel, tourism receipts totalled THB3 trillion in 2018.

Thailand expects 42 million arrivals in 2020, generating THB2.43 trillion./.