Indians and Malaysians are heading for a surge in tourist arrivals in Thailand after easing entry rules, with total arrivals reaching 2 million since the beginning of the year and the Southeast Asian nation’s sluggish economy gaining momentum.
A total of 2.03 million foreign tourists arrived between January 1 and June 26, Deputy Government Spokesperson Treasury Taisarnakul said in a statement on Monday. Tourists from India, Malaysia, the UK, Singapore and the US top the list, she said.
Thailand’s tourism industry, which was nearly wiped out during the epidemic, expects the country’s average monthly arrivals to reach 1.5 million by July 1, with the cancellation of pre-travel registration and compulsory medical insurance.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has lifted most epidemic-era restrictions on travel and businesses, and last week lifted the mask order while allowing pubs and bars to return to normal operating hours. The measures are part of efforts to boost the economy by relying on tourism to generate about 12% of GDP before the epidemic.
The gradual resumption of nightlife recreation destinations marks the end of some of the strictest epidemic-era restrictions and is seen as a key to attracting more foreign tourists in the June-September period, which is considered a low season for Thai tourism.
Weak currencies and the recent legalization of cannabis could also help bring more tourists back to Thailand, Tourism and Sports Minister Fifat Ratchakitprakar said last week. The ministry has made a “conservative” forecast to attract 7.5 million foreign arrivals this year, based on the assumption that Chinese tourists will be absent due to the country’s covid-zero policy and the factor in Ukraine’s war, he said.
While Thailand is unlikely to see pre-coupid levels of tourist arrivals without Chinese visitors, the gradual easing of travel curbs for students and business executives and the resumption of flights between the two countries provide optimism for holidaymakers returning in the second half, the Treasury said. In a statement on Sunday.
According to official data, a year before the epidemic, in 2019, about 30% of Thailand’s total 40 million tourists were Chinese tourists.