By Devayani Sathyan
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Thailand’s economy likely grew 3.1% in the April-June quarter from a year ago, up from 2.7% in the previous quarter, driven by increased foreign tourist arrivals, according to the median forecast of 21 economists polled by Reuters.
On a quarterly basis, gross domestic product (GDP) was forecast to have grown by a seasonally-adjusted 1.2%, a slowdown from the 1.9% growth in the preceding quarter, according to a smaller sample of forecasts in the Aug. 14-17 poll.
While the country’s tourism-driven economy is expected to improve gradually, visitor numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels. Thailand is predicted to receive 29 million tourists this year, down from 40 million visitors in 2019, the last full year before the COVID pandemic.
Exports, a key driver of growth, have contracted since October 2022, indicating weak global demand, especially from China, Thailand’s biggest trading partner.
“The ongoing foreign tourism recovery amid returning visitors including from China, and resilient private consumption underpinned the economic expansion,” wrote Chua Han Teng, economist at DBS.
“Yet, the drop in merchandise exports, while stabilising, continued to drag headline growth, and prevented a stronger growth improvement in 2Q23, given the challenging global economic environment.”
Growth was forecast to average 3.7% this year, in line with the Bank of Thailand’s estimate, and 3.8% in 2024, a separate Reuters poll showed.
(Reporting by Devayani Sathyan; Polling by Milounee Purohit and Veronica Khongwir; Editing by Hari Kishan and Frances Kerry)