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Thailand wants more first-time visitors as they spend more

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Thailand will try to ease the pressure on tourism from a surging currency by targeting more first-time visitors because they are bigger spenders.

[BANGKOK] Thailand will try to ease the pressure on tourism from a surging currency by targeting more first-time visitors because they are bigger spenders.

"First-timers spend 10 per cent to 20 per cent more than repeat tourists and at the same time, we can build a new customer base," Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The state agency's goal is to increase first-time visitors to more than 10 million in 2020, or about a quarter of overall arrivals, from 10 per cent now. It's focusing marketing efforts on regions such as Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Next year's targets include a record 41.8 million arrivals generating 2.22 trillion baht (S$99.55 billion) in receipts, both up roughly 5 per cent from 2019.

Tourism, a key Thai economic engine, sputtered this year as the baht's 7.6 per cent climb against the US dollar made the Asian nation a costlier destination. The appreciation slowed recently after the Bank of Thailand stepped up efforts to tackle the surge.

BLOOMBERG