* Jan-Sept foreign arrivals up 5.4 pct y/y - ministry
* Sees no impact from strong baht on tourism (Adds details, graphic)
BANGKOK, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Tourist arrivals in Thailand rose 5.75 percent in September from a year earlier, led by visitors from China, Malaysia and South Korea, and a strong baht is not expected to hit the country’s lucrative industry, a tourism ministry official said.
Tourism is a rare bright spot and accounts for 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, whose growth has just picked up but still lags regional peers.
Foreign arrivals were 2.56 million in September, spending about 133.5 billion baht ($4.03 billion), Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent-secretary of the tourism and sports ministry, said at a briefing on Tuesday.
Tourist arrivals stood at 26.1 million in January-September, up 5.4 percent on year. They generated revenue of 1.33 trillion baht during the period, up 7.91 percent year-on-year.
“In the fourth quarter, several things are going well... and we are entering the high season,” Pongpanu said, citing Thailand’s safety upgrade and a rise in Chinese tourists, the biggest group of overseas visitors, among the factors.
The ministry expects 9.5-10 million Chinese tourists this year, up from 8.9 million last year, Pongpanu said.
“Overall, there has been no impact of the strong baht on tourism, except for Malaysia as the ringgit is significantly weaker (against the baht),” he said.
The baht has gained 8.2 percent against the dollar this year, the most among Asian currencies.
The ministry, however, said last week that it expected 33-34 million foreign tourists this year, compared with an earlier forecast of 35 million.
In 2016, Thailand had a record 32.6 million visitors.
($1 = 33.07 baht)
Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Sunil Nair