TL;DR Due to the huge tourism imbalance, Thailand MNOs enjoy a huge surplus of data with the rest of Asia’s MNOs, which they can sell with a low cost travel SIM.
Howmuch.net published a great graphic on tourism spending which shows the top countries where tourism dollars are spent. Here’s what they found:
Top 10 Tourist Destinations by Money Spent
To give some perspective on what this means fro the country, lets compare this spending as a percent of GDP:
The Top 10 Tourist Destinations by Money Spent as a percent of GDP
There are of course some island nations with a large part of their GDP from tourism.
Top Destinations by Money Spent as a percent of GDP
While these island nations are earning heavily form tourism, it is interesting to note how much is spent in Thailand in comparison. Tourism spending in Thailand is larger than the GDP of Jamaica, Bahamas, Mauritius, Bahamas, Maldives, Fiji and Barbados combined!
Additionally we can take in to account the lower cost of goods and services in Thailand. Spending $1,000 in US, UK or Spain is much easier to do than spending $1,000 in Thailand. Bangkok has a cost of living index of 56.76, while Paris is 85.4 and New York is at 100. Spain sits in the mid 50s, so comparable to Thailand.
The bottom line is that the country of Thailand dominates inbound tourism. And what do tourists in Thailand demand besides wooden frogs and elephant pants?
AIS, True and DTAC, the major Thai Telcos, are serving up terabytes of mobile data to all the inbound travelers so they they can share their photos on Instagram and WeChat.
Instagram photos from Thailand demand data:
[instagram-feed type=hashtag hashtag=”#thailandtrip” layout=grid num=5 cols=5 colsmobile=2]
Wait, how does this relate to the SIM2Fly travel sim?
Imagine a 10 Chinese travelers coming to Thailand for every 1 Thai person going to China. That means China Mobile needs to provide 10 customers with say 10 GB of data in Thailand. The first option is that China Mobile buys 10 GB of data from the Thai Telco. Let’s say the cost is $10. So China Mobile needs to send Thai Mobile $10. Except we have one Thai in China, needing $1 of data. The net result is $9 flowing into Thai Mobile. By receiving this $9, the Thai Mobile is exposed to taxes and forex changes. What about an easier, less conspicuous way?
The other way to handle this transfer is for China Mobile and Thai Mobile to just exchange Gigabytes. In the above example after the exchange, Thai Mobile gets 10 GB to use on China Mobile network, and China Mobile gets 10 GB to use on Thai Mobile network. Exchanging GBs is quite straight forward, with no cash exchange, just some quick entries on a database.
The problem for Thai Mobile then is an excess of unused Gigabytes on China Mobile and the rest of countries. So how to recoup some earnings from these overseas GBs? Sell a product domestically that is competitively priced and makes it easy to get in the hands of as many Thai outbound travelers as possible. In making this product hover, Thai Mobile also realized it had a lower price than similar offerings from other countries.
Thailand’s unique position
Telcoms in Thailand sit at a unique position in that lots of other Telcos want an allocation with them so their subscribers can seamlessly visit Thailand. It’s for this reason that Thailand would have some of the best out bound roaming products at the best pricing.