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Thai tourism revenue to hit US$66b in 2016: minister
[BANGKOK] Thai tourism revenue is forecast to grow nearly 9 percent in 2016 to touch 2.4 trillion baht (S$95 billion), the country's tourism minister said on Monday, on the back of increased focus on visitors from the ASEAN region and domestic travellers.
The revenue forecast is higher than the earlier projection of 2.3 trillion baht for this year, and up from last year's 2.21 trillion baht.
Tourism accounts for about 10 per cent of the country's GDP and has been one of the few bright spots for Southeast Asia's second-largest economy which has struggled since a 2014 coup by the military.
"We will focus on domestic and ASEAN markets. We will need to work out ways for visitors to stay here longer and spend more," Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told reporters, referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Mr Kobkarn said Thailand would add new tourist attractions, increase flights and organise more conventions this year to boost numbers.
The central bank has forecast the economy would grow 3.5 per cent in 2016, down from its earlier estimate of a 3.7 per cent growth, but expects the economy to continue recovering due to government stimulus measures and tourism.
It expects zero export growth this year partly due to a slowdown in China's economy. "We have to find ways to make tourism revenue exceed our target to make up for exports that will be largely affected this year due to the global economic conditions," Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters.
Somkid said the Board of Investment of Thailand, a state investment agency, would focus on attracting private investment in domestic tourism this year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand said it expects revenue of 1.56 trillion baht from international arrivals this year, an 8.3 per cent increase from 2015.
The tourism ministry says it expects 32 million visitors this year, a record high, up from 29.88 million last year.