The majority of these tourists reportedly came from neighboring countries such as China, Malaysia, and Laos, especially China after Beijing lifted its COVID-19 restrictions.

The results for January revealed a sharp increase in arrivals from 133,828 in January 2022, when Thailand still had strict COVID entry restrictions. Still the figure is down slightly from the previous month: in comparison, there were 2.24 million tourists in December and 1.75 million in November.

Thailand’s economy depends heavily on tourism, which generates about 12% of its annual GDP. The rise in foreign immigration is a positive development, especially as the country recovers from the pandemic’s effects.

Tourism started to rebound last year with 11.15 million foreign visitors overall, exceeding the government objective, but fell far short of the previous high of approximately 40 million visitors and 1.91 trillion baht ($54.37 billion) in pre-pandemic 2019.

At least 26 million international visitors are anticipated to arrive in Thailand this year, contributing to the sector’s recovery to 60% of its pre-pandemic level. China arrivals following the country’s lifting of travel restrictions on January 8 are expected to drive the total revenue from domestic and foreign tourists in 2023 to 2.4 trillion baht, or 80% of the level before Covid-19.

China’s reopening is giving the Thai economy an additional boost, with the government projecting 7-8 million Chinese tourists in 2023, down from 11 million in 2019.

In 2022, Thai GDP fell short of expectations with only 2.6% growth and neighboring countries, and Thailand competitors, have outperformed the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia. Malaysia and the Philippines both experienced growth of 8.7% and 7.6%, with Malaysia benefiting from an increase in electronics exports in the fourth quarter.

About the author

Bangkok Correspondent at Siam News Network

Bangkok Correspondent for Siam News Network. Editor at Thailand Business News

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