Thailand’s economy is deeply built on tourism, with around 40 million tourist visits a year in 2018 / 2019 – easily in the top 10 most visited countries in the world. However, with that comes the problems of overtourism – ecological damage, economic disparity, commercialization of local culture, and lack of access to local sites for locals. None of this unique to Thailand, but by being a pretty large country that is also so dependant on tourism, the scale of the problem is eye-opening.
However, the massive economic hit from the global tourism shutdown in 2020 definitely contributed to the current protests in Thailand and ongoing unrest and economic hardship. The Thai government is currently looking at ways to reform the tourism industry once things start to really reopen – especially focusing on small numbers of wealthy tourists, at least initially. The tourism industry is naturally desperate to get back on its feet in any way possible, so Thailand may be facing the same overtourism issues all over again in a few years.