Record 38.27m tourists in 2018; 41m expected in 2019

Record 38.27m tourists in 2018; 41m expected in 2019

Workers prepare plates of mango with sticky rice, a popular local dessert for thousands of Chinese tourists, in an outdoor banquet in Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi province outside Bangkok on Jan 20, 2019 as part of a government promotion to attract more Chinese tourists. The huge event aims to set a Guinness World Record for the largest serving of mango sticky rice. (Photo by Krit Phromsakla Na SAKOLNAKORN / THAI NEWS PIX / AFP)
Workers prepare plates of mango with sticky rice, a popular local dessert for thousands of Chinese tourists, in an outdoor banquet in Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi province outside Bangkok on Jan 20, 2019 as part of a government promotion to attract more Chinese tourists. The huge event aims to set a Guinness World Record for the largest serving of mango sticky rice. (Photo by Krit Phromsakla Na SAKOLNAKORN / THAI NEWS PIX / AFP)

Thailand saw a record 38.27 million tourists in 2018, up 7.5% from 2017, the Tourism Ministry said on Monday.

The country's December tourist arrivals were 3.85 million, the ministry said in a statement.

Chinese tourists are returning after a slowdown sparked by a tour boat tragedy that triggered concerns about safety standards. The number of Chinese holidaymakers rose 2.8% in December from a year earlier, to 838,634.

Chinese visitors are the top source of foreign receipts in an industry that makes up about a fifth of the economy. Foreign tourist receipts directly account for about 12% of Thailand's gross domestic product.

Tourism is a key engine of growth, but managing the influx is a challenge amid pressure on the environment as well as clogged international airports.

Arrivals are projected to climb about 8% from last year’s 38.3 million, the Tourism Ministry said in a briefing Monday in Bangkok. To put that in perspective, the flood of arrivals exceeds the population of Canada.

For 2019, the ministry expects 41.1 million tourists to spend 2.21 trillion baht. The number of visitors from is projected to rise 11% to 11.69 million, it said.

"The 41 million is a projection from the current trend," Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said at the briefing. "If we actually really reach that level, I’ll have a headache."


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