Thailand expects tourism boost after street protests

Thailand expects tourism boost after street protests

BANGKOK - Thailand expects around 27.8 million tourists this year, the government said on Wednesday, up 12.2 per cent on 2014 when the capital was gripped by anti-government protests and the murder of two British tourists on a holiday island made headlines worldwide.

Thailand is under martial law following the May 22 coup, but the government has vowed to attract more tourists to the country, famous for its Buddhist temples, golden beaches and raunchy night life. "The prime minister has ordered every public sector to urgently build confidence and fix every tourist problems quickly in order to rebuild confidence for tourists, including hygiene, safety and the transport system development," junta spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp told reporters.

The government predicts tourism revenue to reach 1.4 trillion baht (S$57.31 billion) from foreign arrivals this year.

The number of tourists arriving in Thailand rose for the third straight month in December, increasing 11.76 per cent from the same period a year earlier, the Department of Tourism data showed, as the sector continues to recover from months of political unrest.

Tourism, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the Thai economy, suffered its biggest drop in June 2014, the first full month after the coup. It started to recover in October, helped by free visas for Chinese.

Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy grew only 0.2 per cent in January-September 2014 and full-year growth is likely to be less than 1 per cent, the weakest since the devastating flooding of 2011.

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