Steps planned to boost consumption, tourism

Steps planned to boost consumption, tourism

Chinese tourists seen falling 2m this year

Chinese tourists pray at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Chinese tourists pray at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The government plans to introduce additional measures next month to boost consumption and tourism, its finance minister said on Tuesday, as it tries to shore up a faltering economy potentially facing a sharp blow from the coronavirus in China.

Tourism, a key growth driver and previously the only bright spot in the economy, has been hit hard by China's ban on all group tours.

China is Thailand's biggest source of foreign tourists, with 11 million Chinese visitors last year accounting for 28% of the total. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects Chinese visits to fall by 2 million this year.

"We have to admit that there must be an impact on the overall economy, as tourist numbers fall," Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana told reporters.

He said government agencies were working on proposals for measures next month, which could include handouts or cash back to support spending on travel and consumer goods.

In a bid to spur business activity, the cabinet on Tuesday approved a package of tax incentives to encourage investment as exports have been weak and domestic demand soft.

The package is expected to attract investment worth more than 100 billion baht and add 0.25 percentage point to economic growth, said ministry official Lavaron Sangsnit.

The ministry is likely to trim its 2020 growth outlook, currently at 3.3%, when it reviews that on Wednesday.

The central bank forecast 2020 economic growth at 2.8%, slightly picking up from an estimated 2.5% in 2019, a five-year low. Official 2019 growth data is due on Feb 17.

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