Thailand welcomed 39.7 million visitors last year, up 4%

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BANGKOK — Thailand welcomed 39.7 million visitors last year, up 4.2% year-on-year. China was the biggest market followed by Malaysia, India, Korea and Laos.

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Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn reported the figures and said the arrivals of Indian visitors soared by 24% to 1.99 million thanks to the exempted visa-on-arrival fee.

According to the minister, Thailand generated 1.93 trillion baht from visitors, up 3.05%. The biggest spenders were from China, followed by Malaysia, Russia, Japan and India.

Regarding domestic tourism, last year saw 166 million Thai tourists/trips, falling by 0.06%.

Domestic trips in less popular provinces rose by 0.88% while those in main tourist provinces declined by 0.49%.

The country generated 1.08 trillion baht from domestic tours, up 1.18%. Top earners were Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket provinces. In total, Thailand generated 3.01 trillion baht from tourism last year, up 2.37%.

For this year, Mr Phiphat said, the number of visitors should grow steadily by 3-4% to 40.5-41 million due to stimulation measures including the free visa-on-arrival fee, an increase in downtown VAT refund outlets, double entries visas, re-entry permits and mega-events.

He predicted the number of domestic tourists/trips would increase consistently by 2-3% to about 170 million tourists/trips.

The minister saw as negative factors economic problems, natural disasters, conflicts in the Middle East, Tokyo Olympics and UEFA Euro 2020.