Thailand expects 40 million visitors this year and 65 million visitors a decade from now. Right now, Thailand is already struggling with the environmental impact of mass tourism. More tourists mean bigger challenges ahead.
In order to cope up with the influx of tourists, Thailand plans to invest $13 billion to expand airport capacity and connect major highways through high-speed railways. Tourism is the economic lifeblood of Thailand and the overwhelming number of visitors is one of the reasons why the kingdom has the strongest currency in Asia this year.
According to projections from The World Travel & Tourism Council, if the number of foreign tourists going to Thailand reaches 60 million in 2029, it could be compared to the size of the UK population. However, the environmental challenge will also multiply. An example is the closing of Maya Beach to allow the ecosystem to recover.
Since the number of tourist arrivals is more than what the country can handle, a better system to manage tourists and destinations must be implemented to minimize congestion and environmental problems. Thailand is not the only country that is facing the effects of mass tourism. The Philippines and Indonesia are also experiencing coral damage due to plastics and garbage and sewage pollution of the seas.
Tourism accounts for a fifth of Thailand’s economy so that management of the tourism sector is very critical. Tourists arrivals have moderated in recent months but officials see it as temporary effect of a cooling global economy.
Tourism officials have tried for years to encourage travellers to visit less-known islands of the country to ease pressure on traditional hotspots like Bangkok and Phuket. The initiatives were partly successful. The nation’s airports are handling more passengers than they are designed for. Thailand plans to add more terminals at the two international airports located in Bangkok.
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