The Thai economy likely picked up speed in the first quarter, aided by a strong recovery in the tourism sector and a rebound in private consumption, even as a weakening global economy poses the biggest risk to the outlook.
The economy has lagged its regional peers due to the pandemic, but turned a corner with the return of Chinese tourists in recent months boosting employment and domestic demand.
According to the median forecast of 20 economists polled by Reuters from May 8-11, Thailand’s economy grew 2.3% in the January-March quarter from a year ago, up from 1.4% growth in the prior quarter.
On a quarterly basis, gross domestic product (GDP) was forecast to have grown a seasonally-adjusted 1.7%, after contracting 1.5% in the previous quarter.
Han Teng Chua, economist at DBS, said: “Growth was mainly driven by the ongoing recovery in foreign tourism as Chinese visitors began to make a comeback following China’s reopening,” adding that private consumption also contributed.
Government data showed Thailand beat its target of 6 million tourist arrivals in the first quarter, recording 6.15 million visitors between January and late March.
A sharp fall in inflation from a 14-year peak of 7.86% in August of last year to 2.67% last month has also helped boost consumer spending.
Growth was expected to average 3.7% this year, slightly above the Bank of Thailand’s (BOT) estimate of 3.6%. A separate Reuters poll showed it was then forecast to rise to 3.8% in 2024. (NNT)