Finance minister sees foreign visitors at 40m again in 2024

Finance minister sees foreign visitors at 40m again in 2024

A Thai tourist poses for a photo at Wat Pho on June 24, 2020. Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit expects foreign visitors will return to normal by 2024. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
A Thai tourist poses for a photo at Wat Pho on June 24, 2020. Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit expects foreign visitors will return to normal by 2024. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Thailand's tourism-dependent economy should receive 8 million foreign visitors next year and see a recovery to a pre-coronavirus pandemic level of 40 million visitors by 2024, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit said on Wednesday.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy contracted 6.4% in the third quarter from a year earlier after slumping 12.1% in the prior quarter, with tourism taking a hit.

The economy is expected to take two years to recover but the tourist sector should take until 2024, Mr Arkhom told a business seminar.

"If global travel gets better than expected after there is a vaccine, our tourism may come back faster," he added.

While Thailand has had few outbreaks and removed most restrictions, it has not lifted a travel ban imposed in April. It recently started receiving a limited number of tourists on special visas with a quarantine requirement.

Officials have forecast 6.7 million tourists this year, 6.69 of which visited in the first quarter before the ban.

The spending of the nearly 40 million foreign tourists last year accounted for at least 11% of gross domestic product.

The government will discuss later on Wednesday an additional boost to purchasing power, which remained weak, Mr Arkhom said. The government's economic task force is expected to extend subsidies for consumers.

Monetary policy must also be in step with fiscal policy to support the recovery, Mr Arkhom said.

"Monetary policy has to remain accommodative until the economy fully recovers," he said, adding the central bank would deal with the strengthening of the baht

The government plans to borrow 1 trillion baht to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on an economy that officials expect to contract 6% this year.

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