Earlier this year officials in Thailand predicted that the numbers of foreign tourist arrivals would return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023. Today a much slower return was predicted.
In 2019 Thailand welcomed almost 40 million foreign arrivals, a record high, and growth was predicted to continue. The arrival of the pandemic however meant that just 6.7 million people visited the country last year, the vast majority prior to the mid-March lockdown.
A number of tourism projects have been put into place to try and gradually attract tourists to the country, but only a small number of people have taken the trip to the Land of Smiles.
In January this year officials predicted 10 million foreign arrivals in 2021, later downgraded to between 3 and 5 million and 20.8 million in 2022 before returning closer to 40 million in 2023.
Thai Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has now predicted however that significant tourism numbers will not be seen until 2023 and that pre-pandemic levels will not be seen for 5 years.
Tourism is a major contributor to the Thai economy with an estimated 2 trillion baht (approx £46.9 billion / US$64.3 billion) of revenue in 2019.
Bangkok Suvararnabhumi Airport Update
Meanwhile plans for the expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok moved a step closer following discussions in the Thai cabinet to approve the project.
The airport was designed to accommodate 45 million passengers a year but prior to the pandemic was seeing around 60 million people pass through its doors.
The major expansion project is designed to double capacity to ensure that the airport maintains its position as a major transport hub in the region.
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