Indians lead tourist flow to Thailand, arrivals exceed 2 million

Indians and Malaysians are leading a flood of tourists to Thailand after it eased entry rules, with total arrivals exceeding 2 million since the beginning of the year and a boost to the Southeast Asian country’s sluggish economy.

In total, 2.03 million foreign tourists arrived between January 1 and June 26, deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said in a statement on Monday. Travelers from India, Malaysia, the UK, Singapore and the US topped the list, she said.

Thailand’s tourism industry, which was nearly decimated during the pandemic, expects the average number of arrivals per month to rise to around 1.5 million, with the country scrapping pre-travel registration and compulsory medical insurance from July 1.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has rolled back most of the pandemic-era travel and business restrictions, lifting a mask mandate last week, while pubs and bars reopened as normal. The measures are part of efforts to support an economy that relied on tourism to generate about 12% of gross domestic product before the pandemic.

A weaker currency and the recent legalization of cannabis may also contribute to more tourists returning to Thailand, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said last week. The ministry has issued a “conservative” forecast to attract 7.5 million foreign arrivals this year, based on the assumption that Chinese tourists will be absent due to that country’s Covid-Zero policy and taking into account the war in Ukraine. , he said.

While Thailand is unlikely to see pre-Covid levels of tourists without Chinese visitors, a gradual easing of travel restrictions on students and businessmen and the resumption of flights between the two countries fueled optimism about the return of holidaymakers in the second half. Traisuree said. Sunday in a statement.

According to official data, Chinese tourists made up nearly 30% of the total 40 million tourists Thailand received in 2019, the year before the pandemic.

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