BANGKOK: Thailand’s economic recovery is being helped by stronger exports, but the pace will only be hampered by a gradual recovery in the number of foreign tourists, the country’s finance minister said on Wednesday.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy was one of the first destinations in Asia to reopen to vaccinated tourists last year, but authorities have been slower than in other parts of the region to lift entry requirements that have been perceived as more cumbersome.
“Our export sector is strong, but tourism recovery will be gradual,” Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told an online business seminar, noting that Thailand saw about 700,000 visitors in the first four months of 2022.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is targeting 5 to 15 million arrivals this year and spending between 630 and 1.2 trillion baht (18.18 to 34.63 billion US dollars).
In 2019, Thailand welcomed nearly 40 million visitors who spent 1.93 trillion baht, with the tourism sector accounting for about 12 percent of gross domestic product.
In the first three months of 2022, exports rose 15 percent from the same period last year, Arkhom said, adding that they are a mainstay for the economy.
The minister said the government must be careful to take the right measures to support the recovery.
“Regarding the country, we must continue to maintain fiscal and financial stability and will proceed cautiously not to strain future finances,” he added.
At a separate briefing, Thailand’s leading joint venture group maintained its economic growth forecast of 2.5 percent to 4.0 percent this year despite a rise in global commodity prices.
The inflation forecast is kept at 3.5 to 5.5 percent for the year, said the group, which includes representatives from industry, banks and trade. It also maintained its export growth outlook of 3.0 percent to 5.5 percent this year.
($1 = 34.6500 baht)
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