Indians and Malaysians are leading a tourist rush to Thailand after it relaxed entry rules, with total arrivals topping two million since the start of the year and providing a fillip to its sluggish economy.
Foreign tourist arrivals totalled 2.03 million between Jan 1 and June 26, deputy government spokesman Traisuree Taisaranakul said in a statement yesterday.
She said travellers from India, Malaysia, the UK, Singapore, and the US topped the list.
Thailand’s tourism industry, which was nearly decimated during the pandemic, expects average monthly arrivals to surge to about 1.5 million with the country scrapping a pre-travel registration and mandatory medical insurance from July 1.
Thailand has rolled back most of the pandemic-era curbs on travel and businesses.
Last week, it lifted a mask mandate while allowing pubs and bars to return to normal operating hours.
The measures are part of efforts to shore up an economy which depended on tourism to generate about 12% of gross domestic product before the pandemic.
A weaker currency and the recent legalisation of cannabis may also help bring back more tourists to Thailand, tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said last week. The ministry has set a “conservative” forecast to attract 7.5 million foreign arrivals this year, based on the assumption that Chinese tourists will remain absent because of the country’s zero-Covid policy and factoring in the war in Ukraine, he said.
While Thailand is unlikely to see pre-Covid levels of tourist arrivals without Chinese visitors, a gradual easing of travel curbs for students and business executives and resumption of flights between the two countries offered optimism for the return of holidaymakers in the second half, Traisuree said in a statement on Sunday.
Chinese tourists made up almost 30% of the total 40 million tourists Thailand received in 2019, the year before the pandemic, according to official data.
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