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Although the future remains bright for Thai tourism; according to the results of a recent study, the government should continue to invest more in infrastructure and skills to support the growing tourism sector.

“Thai hospitality services are second to none in global tourism, but the government and related parties still need to work out more incentives to entice foreign visitors and promote more comprehensive tourism packages,” Aat Pisanwanich, director of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Centre for International Trade Studies, told the Bangkok Post.

The survey team also recommended that the government focuses on upgrading Thai people's language skills, not only in English, but also in neighbouring countries’ languages in preparation for ASEAN Economic Integration in 2015. Khun Aat also urged the government to upgrade the rail network to link with the systems of Laos, Cambodia and China.

In terms of existing tourism numbers, the survey showed the Kingdom to be in second place in the region based on tourist arrivals last year. Malaysia ranked first having attracted 25 million foreign tourists in 2012, but Thailand followed closely with 22.3 million visitors, followed by Singapore (15 million), Indonesia (8 million) and Vietnam (6.8 million). The Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar trailed behind with 4.4 million, 3.5 million, 3 million, 600,000 and 250,000 foreign arrivals respectively.

The Thai government remains confident that it can overtake Malaysia by 2020, and is investing funds to improve essential services such as roads and other regional transport services. Construction is underway on the new airport terminal at Phuket IN terminational Airport, which is scheduled for completion in 2015. In the meantime, a temporary passenger terminal is being added by the end of 2013 in order to relieve congestion. Over on Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand, plans for a new airport were also revealed recently by Thai entrepreneur, Somphong Sooksanguan, who told the local press passengers will be welcomed by September next year.

The establishment of Air Asia X, the international extension of regional budget airline Air Asia is also likely to keep foreign visitors flooding into Thailand, although details of specific routes have yet to be released.

Beyond physical infrastructure improvements, Thailand's internet connectivity is also improving fast, having for some time lagged behind neighbouring countries. Figures from the first half of 2013 show strong increases in mobile data revenue for the country's major providers – 63.3 percent year-on-year in some cases– largely due to increasing smartphone penetration. Mobile usage has been growing at breakneck speed and the recent launch of 3G services in key locations across the country will mean visitors enjoy much better access in the coming high season.

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