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A view over a beach in Phuket, Thailand

The land of smiles

This first lesson introduces Thailand as a tourist destination, who might go there and for what reasons

Key questions

Who goes to Thailand?

Why do people go to Thailand?

Who goes to Thailand?

Thailand had 13.38 million international guests in 2005, staying 8.1 days on average. According to the Tourist Authority of Thailand, 65% of tourists come from the Asia Pacific region with Japan and Malaysa among the leading countries of origin. Outside of Asia, ourists come from Britain, Germany, Scandinavia and the USA with increasing numbers coming from the Middle East. Approximately 55% of tourists are return visitors. Thailand prides itself on having something for everyone from backpakers to families, from culture and wildlife lovers, from adventure travellers to those who just fly and flop on one its many beaches.

Why do people go to Thailand?

Thailand offers a great variety of attractions which can be combined with hobbies or leisure. This includes dive sites, sandy beaches, hundreds of islands, archaeological sites, museums, ethnic and religious sites and World Heritage sites. However, in recent years, Thailand has been losing out on tourists seeking cultural destinations, to Cambodia (famous for Angkor Wat) and Laos (famous for Luang Prabang). To counter this Thailand is seeking more niche markets such as golf holidays, or holidays combined with medical treatment. These are especially aimed at the lucrative and medium-haul markets of Japan and South Korea and in the future China. According to the Tourist autority of Thailand, Asian tourists prefer Bangkok and the historical sights nearby, western tourists prefer Bangkok and the southern beaches.


Flight TG 917 has left the runway of Terminal three, Heathrow Airport. It is destined for Bangkok, Thailand. The flight time is 11 hours, 15 minutes.
Three more 747 jumbo jets take the same journey every day, carrying around 500 passengers each. Many other airlines operate indirect flights daily from the UK to Thailand.

Why do so many people want to go to Thailand, ‘the land of smiles'?

Look at the scenes in the Thailand scenes slide show' to get some ideas.

Which ones would you choose to decorate billboards in the new airport to inspire newly arriving visitors?

What slogans would you use to welcome and excite the latest arrivals?

Main Activity

Meet the people sitting in row 15 of Flight TG 917. Each passenger has planned a holiday in Thailand with particular needs and wants.

  • Vladamir and Alena, 42, from Moscow, Russia

  • The Evans family - Tanya, Dave, Sasha and Jack, Swindon

  • Danny and Melissa, 23, from Bristol 

  • Steve, 28, from South London

  • Caroline, 25, from Manchester

  • George, 68, Bowes Village, County Durham

  • Joanne, 18, Kings Heath, Birmingham

Launch the Thailand tourist destinations interactive or download the document Thailand - the land of smiles to find out more about who these people are and why they are going to Thailand, then choose a destination for them.

Be ready to explain your choices.


Thailand received 13.8 million international visitors in 2006.

Number of tourists visiting Thailand

The Tourism Authority of Thailand hopes that numbers of tourists will have bettered 2006's record by another million in 2007.

How might the following events affect their forecasts?

  • In October 2006, Thailand's government was taken over by the army in a military coup

  • Although there was no violence, the political situation in Thailand remains uncertain

  • The pound has remained strong against the baht, Thailand's currency

  • A series of bombs exploded on New Years Eve in different parts of Bangkok

  • There is mounting pressure on people to avoid long-haul travel and go on holiday closer to home to cut down on carbon emissions

  • A new outbreak of bird flu has been reported in a remote northern province of Thailand

Who would be most affected by these events?

File nameFiles

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Paradise Lost Lesson 1 Thailand Scenes Slideshow


803 KB

Paradise Lost Lesson 1 Thailand: The Land of Smiles


430 KB

Paradise Lost Lesson 1 Thailand: The Land of Smiles (1)


305 KB

Paradise Lost Lesson 1 Thailand Tourist Statistics


486 KB

Paradise Lost Lesson 1 Thailand Tourist Statistics (1)


191 KB

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