The government has measures in place to “restart tourism” and expects 40 million visitors and 3.1 trillion baht in tourism-related revenue next year, according to a spokesman.
The anticipated revenue next year would be 29% higher than the 2.4 trillion baht the government expects from tourism this year, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said after the first official meeting of the new cabinet on Wednesday.
The foreign arrivals figure of 40 million would match the pre-pandemic record set in 2019, something tourism industry experts thought might not happen for a few more years, if at all.
“Tourism is the only economic engine that can still run and is expected to generate substantial revenue for the country,” Mr Chai said.
Tourism directly and indirectly accounts for about 20% of gross domestic product. Exports account for about 60% of GDP but have been sluggish because of weak global demand. Overseas shipments are expected to be worth 1-2% less than they were last year, according to most forecasts.
The country this year is expected to receive 28 million foreign visitors and earn 2.4 trillion baht in tourism revenue — 1.4 trillion from foreigners and 1 trillion from local travellers.
Total tourism revenue last year was 600 billion baht as the country was closed to foreign travellers for several months because of Covid restrictions.
“This year the expected revenue from tourism will account for 80% of the figure in 2019 when tourism-related revenue peaked before the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr Chai said.
To achieve its goals next year, the government has outlined 10 measures for tourism promotion.
A visa-free scheme is among them. On Wednesday the cabinet resolved to extend the visa exemption to visitors from China and Kazakhstan from Sept 25 to Feb 29. The scheme is already open to visitors from 39 countries while visitors from nine other countries can obtain visas upon arrival.
Other measures include special tourist safety measures, commercial video and arrangements for actors, singers and high-level Chinese officials to promote Thailand as a great destination.
The prime minister will also visit targeted countries to persuade their citizens to visit Thailand.
As well, more direct flights are planned to secondary but high-potential provinces. The government also intends to quickly develop high-quality and unique products and services in the tourism sector, organise tourist events all year long and develop Loy Krathong and Songkran to be world-class festivals.
Special promotions for visitors will be offered through tour agencies, with Thailand promoted as an entertainment hub of Asia.
As well, an “online crisis management” team will be set up to respond to any incidents that affect tourism in Thailand.
“These are the 10 measures to restart Thai tourism and make it a revenue engine that generates a quick win and new income for economic recovery,” Mr Chai said.