Thailand Sees Staggering Number of International Tourist Arrivals in 2017
Thailand welcomed a record 35.38 million foreign tourists in 2017, up 8.8 percent from the previous year, the tourism ministry said on press release.
Tourist receipts account for about 12 percent of Southeast Asia's second-largest economy,to more than 1.8 trillion baht (US$56 billion), making it one of the most important drivers of growth as Thailand has lagged regional peers since the army took power in 2014.
International tourist arrivals rose 8.8 percent in 2017 to a record 35.38 million, equivalent to more than half the Thai population, said government tourism and sports official Pongpanu Svetarundra. The biggest factor was growth of 12 percent in the numbers of Chinese visitors, who are ever more evident at beaches, shopping malls and temples.
In 2018, Thailand expects 37.55 million visitors to spend 2.1 trillion baht.
Although the baht is near a 3-1/2-year high against the dollar and up more than 12 percent since the start of 2017, inflation is less than one percent.
The currency strength was having little impact, said Ittirit Kinglek, the president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, adding, "The overall trend looks positive."
Among the biggest beneficiaries of the tourism boom is majority state-owned airports operator Airports of Thailand (AOT), which recently said it planned to upgrade its 2018 earnings outlook.
Shares of AOT have risen 78 percent since the start of 2017, with its market capitalisation reaching 1 trillion baht (US$31 billion), making it the largest airport operator in the world by market capitalization.
(Channel NewsAsia | Business Standard)
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