October 12, 2017 / 6:27 AM / in 8 days

Thailand cuts 2017 tourist arrivals forecast to 33-34 million: minister

FILE PHOTO - Tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok May 24, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s tourism minister on Thursday said the country expects 33 to 34 million visitors this year, down from an earlier forecast of 35 million.

“Right now Thailand has welcomed 27 million already this year so I think for the whole year we should get 33 to 34 [million],” tourism minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told reporters.

She did not give a reason for the projecting a lower number.

The smaller number would still be a record for Thailand, which welcomed 32.6 million foreign visitors in 2016, with the largest group coming from China.

Tourist arrivals so far this year are 5.6 percent above the same period of 2016, with 7.63 million out of the total of 26.9 million coming from China, Kobkarn said.

The ministry said Thailand attracted far more tourists from China during its just-ended “Golden Week” holiday than a year earlier.

A ministry document said that 251,120 Chinese visitors arrived during Oct. 1-9, a 69 percent increase from a year earlier.

Revenue generated by them during the period was 12.53 billion baht ($378.55 million), or 76 percent higher than last year, the ministry said.

“We’re still the number one destination for Chinese tourists and many others, so our revenue still constantly grows,” Kobkarn told reporters.

Thailand is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounts for around 12 percent of the economy.

Tourism was hurt by political turmoil and a coup in 2014 and by widespread floods in 2011, but the industry recovered quickly.

Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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