Thailand: Prayut predicts tourism will be 50% restored by next year

Thailand can expect to welcome 20 million tourists next year, or about half the pre-pandemic level, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday.

That projection is likely to materialise provided the Covid-19 situation doesn’t deteriorate again and no new threats to tourism appear on the horizon, he said.

Tens of thousands of tourists are arriving in the kingdom daily and the situation has improved markedly since entry restrictions were eased, Gen Prayut noted.

A plan to impose a fee on international tourists for travelling in Thailand has yet to be implemented, pending more discussions, he said.

Despite a slight slowdown in economic growth, a rise in exports due to the weaker baht — particularly agricultural products — and a jump in foreign tourists give cause for optimism, the prime minister added.

He was speaking after a briefing on the current economic situation at yesterday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

Overall, the Thai economy grew at a more promising rate in the first quarter of this year than in Q4 of 2021, he said.

Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, however, remain two sticking points that could hinder economic growth if they persist, he said.

Consequently, the government has lowered its projection for this year’s gross domestic product (GDP) from 4.0% to 3.5%.

Energy prices that have driven inflation up are a factor beyond the government’s control but it is introducing measures to mitigate the impact of high oil prices, Gen Prayut said.

Dr Parnrudee Manomaipiboon, director of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Department of Health, said the BMA is considering further relaxing its Covid-19 restrictions.

People may soon be allowed to take off their masks in certain public places while more night entertainment venues will likely be allowed to reopen provided they strictly follow Covid-19 safety measures, she said.

The overall Covid-19 situation in the country has improved significantly with the number of new infections and deaths continuing to drop, said Dr Kiattiphum Wongrachit, the permanent secretary for public health.