BANGKOK Feb 16 International tourist arrivals
in Thailand rose 6.5 percent in January from a year earlier, the
Thai government said on Thursday, with a recovery in the number
of visitors from China after a Thai crackdown on cheap package
Tourism accounts for 12 percent of Thailand's economic
output, and has been a rare bright spot for Southeast Asia's
second-largest economy, which has lagged its regional peers.
The number of foreign arrivals were 3.2 million in January,
with number of visitors from China rising 5.5 percent from a
year earlier to 860,000 that month, Pongpanu Svetarundra,
permanent-secretary of the tourism and sports ministry, told a
Revenue from foreign tourists rose 12 percent to 172 billion
baht ($4.92 billion) in January.
"The number of tourists came in as expected in January, with
Chinese visitor numbers turning positive," he said.
"It's a relief as things are getting back to normal after
our measures to improve package tours," he said.
Chinese tourists, Thailand's biggest visitors, tumbled 21
percent in the final quarter of 2016 following the crackdown in
September on "zero-dollar" tours aimed at Chinese visitors on a
budget. Zero-dollar tourists pay everything up front.
Malaysia and South Korea are the second- and third-largest
source countries for tourists to Thailand.
For this year, the military government aims for 34
million-35 million foreign tourists this year, with revenue of
1.78 trillion baht.
That compares with a record 32.6 million tourist arrivals
and revenue of 1.64 trillion baht last year.
Chinese tourists alone rose 12 percent to 8.87 million last
year and the government expects 9 million visitors this year.
($1 = 34.98 baht)
(Reporting by Pairat Temphairojana; Writing by Orathai Sriring;
Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)