Thailand recorded 19 million foreign tourists so far this year

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand recorded 19 million foreign tourists in the January to September 17 period this year, the tourism ministry said on Tuesday.

Foreign arrivals generated 795 billion baht ($22.26 billion)in revenue, it said.

“The tourism situation in Thailand is showing signs of improvement,” the statement said, adding that the government’s visa waiver for Chinese arrivals will give the sector a boost.

Arrivals are expected to pick up as the industry begins to enter high season this week, with long weekends in source countries like Malaysia and Japan.

Thailand’s new government plans to boost tourism arrivals include waiving visas for arrivals from China and Kazakhstan from Sept. 25 till the end of February.

Tourism is a key driver of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy. The government expects to see 28 million arrivals this year.

In 2019, there was a record of 39.9 million foreign tourists, including 11 million from China. The government earlier said it is aiming for five million Chinese tourists this year.

($1 = 35.7200 baht)

(Reporting by Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)