Thailand targets arrival of 5 mln to 15 mln foreign tourists this year

Thailand is aiming for 5 million to 15 million international visitor arrivals this year, according to a government official, as the country eases travel restrictions to assist the crucial tourism sector.

From May 1, the Southeast Asian country abolished on-arrival Covid-19 testing, the latest measure geared at recovering its devastated tourist industry, which accounts for around 12% of its GDP.

Tourists are anticipated to spend between 630 billion and 1.2 trillion baht ($18.35 billion) this year, according to government spokeswoman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, citing projections from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The estimated tourist numbers would be a significant increase above the 428,000 international tourists in 2021, but still far behind the roughly 40 million visitors who spent 1.91 trillion baht in 2019.

Thailand attracted 742,386 international tourists from January to April, according to Thanakorn, and the figure is anticipated to climb dramatically.

An economic task group led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha authorized extending support for the domestic tourism sector from May to September on Friday, including a 40% government discount on further 1 million room nights.

Thanakorn estimates that domestic tourism would produce roughly 660 billion baht this year.

According to Bank of Thailand Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, the tourist sector may not recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2026.

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