Minister suggests arrivals unlikely to meet forecast
The number of international tourists next year might be lower than the Finance Ministry's forecast because of the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant, said Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.
The ministry projects seven million foreign tourist arrivals next year, up from the forecast of 200,000 for this year. There were around 40 million tourist arrivals in 2019.
Last week the Bank of Thailand's Monetary Policy Committee said it reduced its foreign tourist arrival outlook for 2022 from 6 million to 5.6 million, in line with the central bank's existing assessment regarding downside risks for tourism amid higher uncertainties for an outbreak.
Arrivals should gradually improve in the second half of next year.
The tourism industry, which contributed up to 20% of GDP during boom years, plummeted to 1.79% of GDP during the first half of 2021, largely as a result of border closures.
The ministry predicts the country's economic expansion to reach 1% this year before rising to 4% next year.
Mr Arkhom said if there is another lockdown to bring down the infection rate to zero, this could cost the economy dearly. Therefore, the country has to maintain a balance between public health and the economy, Mr Arkhom said after presiding over the Government Savings Bank's launch of a new loan campaign on Monday.
The launch of the loan of 5 billion baht is aimed at creating jobs. The loan targets small merchants and street vendors as well as independent jobs such as taxi drivers.
The scheme offers between 50,000 and 300,000 baht per person, with an interest rate of 3.99%. The instalment period is five years with a grace period for principal and interest payment during the first six months.