Chinese, Malaysians top tourist arrivals in Thailand

BANGKOK - International tourist arrivals in Thailand rose 4.6 per cent in May from a year earlier, with revenues up 6.9 per cent, but a strong baht could impact the lucrative industry, the tourism and sports ministry said.

The number of foreign tourists stood at 2.59 million in May, led by visitors from China, Malaysia, India, Russia and the United States, generating revenue of 125 billion baht (S$5.1 billion), Pongpanu Svetarundra, the ministry's permanent-secretary, said in a statement.on Monday

In the January-May period, tourist numbers rose 3.2 per cent to 14.61 million, with revenue up 5.1 per cent to 747 billion baht, the ministry said.

The strengthening of the baht against currencies in Thailand's tourist markets, such as the dollar, the pound and the euro, might affect visitors' spending and their travel decisions to Thailand, Pongpanu said.

But a stronger rouble against the baht has helped lift arrivals from Russia, he added.

Tourism accounts for 12 per cent of Thailand's economy, and has been a rare bright spot for Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, whose growth has lagged regional peers in recent years.