Fearmongering About Overtourism Helps No One

Fearmongering About Overtourism In Thailand Helps No One

World Travel and Tourism Council 

In recent weeks, the World Travel and Tourism Council suggested that the resurgence of Thailand’s tourism industry, in the wake of government forced shutdowns that collapsed the industry and countless small business owners, should be monitored closely to avoid overcrowding and environmental degradation. Let’s put this into perspective. There were nearly 40 million visitors to the Kingdom in 2019 and the Tourism Authority of Thailand forecasts 36 million international arrivals in 2024. However, this is merely a forecast by a government agency whose purpose is to promote tourism and create a positive sentiment for the industry. Did the World Travel and Tourism Council consider how its statement on supposed “overtourism” might affect the choices of tourist looking to come to Thailand? Probably not. Moreover, the bevy of foreigner oriented blogs and media companies pounced on the opportunity to run their fear monger articles to get clicks. This “over tourism” narrative also comes on the heels of recent incidents of foreigners behaving badly in the Kingdom that has ignited Thai social media. The truth is that these occurrences are rare, but their reach on social media far outweighs their significance or prevalence.

Thailand’s Household Debt Remains High

It is highly likely that World Travel and Tourism Council┬ádid not consider the fact that Thailand’s household debt remains elevated from pre-pandemic levels at 91.3% of GDP as reported by Krungsri Bank. This rate currently ranks high on the global scoreboard and just behind South Korea (101.7%) and Hong Kong (95.9%) in Southeast Asia. Sustainable tourism and environmental conservation are undoubtedly important, but how about we give Thailand’s tourism operators a breather after their livelihoods were decimated, much of which was driven by the statements and policies of global non-governmental organizations during the pandemic. Thailand and its people are capable of multi-tasking – creating sustainable tourism while not choking its recovery and growth.

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