Thailand is well on the road to economic recovery after recording a GDP growth of 2.6% in 2022. The positive momentum has carried into the first quarter of 2023, surpassing expectations. In Q1 2023, the Thai economy expanded by 2.7% year-on-year, supported by the rebound in tourism and private consumption.
Traditionally reliant on tourism, Thailand has received a much-needed boost with the return of international visitors, especially from China, following the country’s reopening. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, approximately 6.5 million tourists visited Thailand, with the Tourism Authority of Thailand aiming to attract 25 million foreign tourists by year-end.
Taking Travel to Greater Heights
The country’s flagship carrier, Thai Airways (THAI), is well positioned to support this tourism revival. With a vast network spanning 47 international destinations, including prominent European cities such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Stockholm and Copenhagen, THAI is further expanding its reach by reintroducing direct flights from Milan and Oslo by early 2024, after a temporary suspension due to the pandemic. With more direct flights, travelers get to enjoy uninterrupted journeys to Bangkok, avoiding time-consuming and tiring layovers and connections.
Recent investments in new wide-body aircraft such as the Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 787 guarantee a comfortable and spacious onboard experience. From its roomy business class seats and personalized services to the extensive menu of high-quality Thai cuisine and a wide range of inflight entertainment options, THAI ensures that travelers have a seamless and enjoyable journey. This combination of comfort, convenience and true hospitality has contributed to its success as the choice airline for many discerning travelers.
Another local company looking to support the growth of the tourism sector is TRAViZGO, Thailand’s pioneering travel tech startup. After more than two decades in the travel market, TRAViZGO is ready to scale new heights with its recently launched TRAViZGO Super App. To cater to the needs of the modern consumer, the app offers a wide range of travel-related services from booking and managing flights, accommodation and transportation to package tours and travel insurance—all within a single platform.
TRAViZGO has also been working closely with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to further promote the country to international visitors. Last November, the company collaborated with the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) to develop a business-to-business online platform that connects tourism service providers in Thailand with travel agents worldwide. The platform opens new opportunities for local players, especially small businesses, to expand their market reach by tapping into new customer segments and geographic markets.
Staying Committed to Sustainability Goals
Amid this economic expansion, Thailand remains committed to its sustainability goals. As the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, Thailand has made significant strides in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, the country’s bio-circular green (BCG) economy model, developed in 2021 and aligned with the UN SDGs, has gained greater prominence as Thailand contributes to global efforts to address environmental challenges and promote sustainability.
Thai corporations and businesses actively support Thailand’s sustainability and net zero targets. Among them is Indorama Ventures, the world’s major polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin producer and recycler, the plastic commonly used for beverage bottles. One of the largest petrochemical companies in the world, Indorama Ventures set up its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Council to explore ways the company can implement sustainability initiatives across its business segments. Through its Vision 2030 plan, the company aims to achieve a 30% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 combined greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity, a 15% reduction in energy intensity, a 20% reduction in water intensity, 25% use of renewable electricity and more.
In 2022, the company established Indorama Ventures Investments & Holdings as a startup business incubator to identify and invest in projects with advanced technologies and innovations, including bio-based materials. The company plans to invest more than US$7 billion to increase recycling capacity, decarbonization and bio-based feedstock to 2.4 million tons by 2030. These targets are aligned with Thailand’s BCG economy model and the UN SDGs.
Another industry leader, Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev), the largest beverage company in Thailand and one of the largest in Southeast Asia, is also leading the charge in the sustainability journey. The company’s ESG commitment is largely inspired by the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, a principles-based framework that promotes balanced development with respect to the environment, economy, community and local culture.
As clean water is the most important natural resource for the beverage manufacturing industry, ThaiBev is committed to water conservation initiatives and aims to achieve 100% water replenishment by 2040. In the area of packaging, the company ensures that its products create minimal carbon footprints. It also aims to achieve packaging circularity and has been active in reusing and recycling its bottles. These are just some of the company’s efforts that are part of its “Enabling Sustainable Growth” strategy, designed to drive resilience across its business, while protecting the environment, supporting local communities and practicing good corporate governance.
Looking ahead, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) forecasts that the Thai economy will expand between 2.7% and 3.7% in 2023, driven largely by the ongoing recovery of the tourism sector, rising private consumption and expansion in both private and public investments.
Thailand’s economic priorities for the remainder of the year include fostering the export sector, stimulating private investment, catalyzing the recovery in tourism and related service sectors, supporting agricultural production, and advancing initiatives in the Eastern Economic Corridor and other special zones, among others.