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.
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.