Has the Thai bubble Burst?
If you believed everything you saw in the media, you wouldn’t be being silly in thinking that Thailand’s tourist industry was booming. With reports coming out of the TAT that record numbers of tourists are arriving, there should be no need to panic, right? Well between you and me,it doesn’t really seem to be the case. Is the bubble about to burst, or has it already?
Anyone who is here will tell you straight away that the figures in these reports simply do not match up with what we are seeing. Business owners all over Thailand, not just in Pattaya, are emailing on a daily basis telling us how their businesses are way down from the previous years. I spoke to 1 business owner in particular, who told me that his business was down 90% on last year. So why has it come to this?
Go back 5-10 years and Thailand really was on the up. Foreign money was being invested from all angles, and the Thais were benefiting big time. It was a cheap holiday for us foreigners, yet the business owners saw a massive rise in profits from previous years. Did they get greedy; I think it’s a very possible answer?
Another theory held by some is that it’s down to the type of tourist that Thailand has attracted over the years, but that’s a whole different argument, because you will find it to be the same, or similar, anywhere else in the world. Thailand does however, have a way of attracting some pretty unique tourists, shall we say.
I personally think that one of the biggest changes is the neighboring countries, i.e. the competition. Places like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Philippines have come a long way in regards to hotels, food and entertainment in the last few years. Service standards are good, and visa rules are much more lenient compared to here in Thailand.
The Thai currency is another obvious factor. Whilst the Pound, Euro, Dollar, and more notably, the Ruble, have fallen, the Thai baht has somehow managed to stay strong. Not only does this make for a more expensive holiday, but it also affects retirees, living here on a pension from back home.
Then there are the darker sides, which I won’t go into too much. Crime levels for instance may be a factor, and tourists would rather go elsewhere. People come on holiday to have fun, and relax; not to be constantly worrying about their safety and well-being.
There is almost nowhere to go from here except upwards, although the big question that remains is when, of even if, that will happen. I almost feel sorry for Thailand; they were on to such a good thing, but with new restricted visa laws, the currency, and the rest of it, it’s difficult to see a way back.
Personally, I still enjoy living here, and still think Thailand has a lot to offer its tourists and expats, so here’s looking forward to seeing what the future hold for Thailand.