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Thai Tourism Sector Has Turned a Corner, Senior Officials Say – The Diplomat

asean beat | | Economy | | Southeast Asia

China aims to attract more than 30 million tourists in 2023, but its success may depend on the future of China’s “Zero COVID” policy.

A busy night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

credit: Depositphotos

In recent days, senior Thai officials have expressed confidence that the country’s economy has entered a recovery phase after more than two years of growing anemia caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A key driver of this recovery has been tourism, which has recovered strongly after the devastation brought on by travel bans and quarantines caused by the pandemic.

according to Reuters communicationgovernment spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told local media yesterday that the government expects to earn 2.38 trillion baht (about $64.5 billion) in tourism revenue next year. We expect arrivals to jump to about 80% of 2019 levels, the last year before the pandemic, or 32 million.

Thailand since July 1st full resumption Travelers have once again flocked to Thailand’s beaches, temples and markets in encouraging numbers after removing the requirement for foreign travelers to present a negative PCR test before departure. Anucha said the government is targeting 8 million to 10 million visitors in 2022. This marks a significant increase in the number of just 428,000 foreign citizens who passed the country’s labyrinthine vaccination, visa, and quarantine requirements in 2021. In 2020, the country welcomed her 6.7 million foreign visitors, most of them in March before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Thailand’s economy, the second largest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is unusually dependent on tourism.Thailand has been relatively successful in containing COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, but the shutdown and collapse of international travel has devastated the country’s tourism industry.2019, Thailand almost 40 million foreign touristsand the industry contributes an estimated 20% of Thailand’s GDP.

A stagnation in the tourism sector in 2021 is reflected in the Thai economy as a whole, which grew at just 1.5%, the slowest in the region after negative growth in 2020. Conversely, improved tourist numbers support the economy as a whole. Finance Minister Arkhom Thampittayapaisis said late last week The Thai economy is expected to grow by 3-3.5% this year and 3-4% in 2023.

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In its latest Asian Development Outlook, released in July, the Asian Development Bank puts Thailand’s economy at 2.9% growth in 2022the slowest rate among the six major ASEAN economies, and will increase by 4.2% next year.

Despite the recovery so far, the Thai government’s target of more than 30 million visitors next year remains optimistic. Before the pandemic, the country relied heavily on visitors from China. In 2019, Thailand 11 million Chinese tourists, more than a quarter of the total for the year. However, the near-term outlook is uncertain, despite the Chinese government’s “no coronavirus” policy, which has almost completely blocked outbound tourism, and travel restrictions have been eased in some cities.

According to Bangkok Post, Thailand has received Only 36,246 Chinese visitors Thai officials have expressed some confidence that this could rise to 500,000 by the end of 2022.

The Thai government’s ability to meet its 2023 tourism targets may depend on decisions not only in Bangkok but also in Beijing.

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