Thailand Expects 32.4 Million Tourists This Year
Thailand is still expecting to reach its forecasted 32.4 million visitors this year, the tourism and sports minister said on Friday. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Tourism and Sports Minister, told reporters that visitor arrivals rose 1.8 percent in October from a year earlier, or about 1.9 million arrivals. “Visitor numbers in October remained positive especially considering that these statistics relate to the initial 26 days of October,” she said. “For the whole year, we still expect to achieve our 32 million target.”
These figures are very positive and will help to alleviate concerns of local business owners and employees in the tourism sector after the military government declared a year long period of mourning to mark the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died on the 13th October at the age of 88, after 70 years on the throne. On the 13th October it advised festivities be curtailed for the first 30 days of the king's death, although it also urged businesses to stay active. The restrictions, which were covered heavily by the world’s media have had business owners in the tourism and entertainment sectors concerned that the volume of tourist’s visiting Thailand over the coming high season may be reduced. The military government have confirmed this week that restrictions on entertainment and television in Thailand will be lifted on the 14th November.
Tourism accounts for about 10 percent of Thailand's GDP, and the tourist industry has been a rare bright spot for an economy that has struggled to gain traction since the army seized power in May 2014 to end political unrest. The country's exports and domestic consumption have both been stubbornly sluggish. The 32.4 million target was set on the 4th October, which was cut from 33 million earlier due to a drop in Chinese tourists, Thailand's largest number of visitors, following a Thai crackdown on cheap tour packages. The ministry has forecast revenue of THB1.63 trillion from foreign tourists this year, up 11.7 percent from 2015. In the first nine months of 2016, the number of tourist arrivals was 24.82 million. Last year, Thailand hosted a record 29.9 million visitors.