January 5, 2017 / 8:43 AM / 10 months ago

Thailand tourist numbers rise nearly 9 percent in 2016

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand rose nearly 9 percent to 32.6 million in 2016, bringing in 1.64 trillion baht ($45.9 billion) worth of business, up nearly 13 percent from 2015, according to data released by the Tourism Ministry on Thursday.

Tourists board a sightseeing boat at a pier at Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/Files

The rise, just beating the ministry’s forecast of 32.4 million visitors, came despite the mourning period for Thailand’s late king, a number of bombings in resorts, cases of the Zika virus and a crackdown on some low budget Chinese tours.

Tourism has been a rare bright spot for Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, with exports sluggish exports and domestic demand subdued since the military siezed power in 2014 coup to end political unrest.

The ministry said almost a third of its total international arrivals in 2016 came from China, with 8.87 million Chinese visitors, making for an increase of 11.8 percent from 2015.

($1 = 35.7200 baht)

Reporting By Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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