Take a walk around the markets of Pratunam in downtown Bangkok on any given weekday and you’ll soon discover there’s a new type of tourist in town.
For years, Thailand’s tourism scene has been dominated by Chinese visitors, with 10.5 million in 2018 alone – accounting for about 28 percent of total foreign arrivals.
But after a tour boat carrying mostly Chinese tourists sank off the southern resort island of Phuket in July last year, killing 47, the number of visitors from Thailand’s mammoth neighbour to the north – which had been increasing ever year – began to tail off.
The Thailand deputy Prime Minister claiming it was ‘their own fault, not the Thais,’ didn’t help matters much.
In their wake, the number of tourists from India has now started to increase, with a record 180,000 visiting in June alone, according to the Thai tourism ministry.
More direct flights, a visa waiver and, most importantly, increasing wealth have spurred the number of Indian arrivals, which the Tourism Authority of Thailand says were up by more than 20 percent year on year in the first five months of 2019.
Arrivals from China, meanwhile, were 4 percent down over the same period – although that still equates to 4.8 million tourists, whereas just 787,195 came from India.