Thailand suffered a rare drop in tourist arrivals in October as Chinese stayed away, keeping the country’s economic outlook cloudy.
Overall arrivals fell 0.5% from a year earlier, the first decline since early 2017, according to Tourism Ministry figures and data compiled by Bloomberg. Chinese visitors slid almost 20%, Permanent Secretary for Tourism Pongpanu Svetarundra said in a briefing Wednesday in Bangkok.
The decline is a risk for growth as Chinese are the top source of foreign receipts in the tourism industry, which on some estimates makes up about a fifth of the economy. At the same time, October exports data released Wednesday showed a rebound from a September tumble, providing some relief.
"The Chinese market has still not recovered, but I think this is due to internal factors like yuan depreciation," said Ben Montgomery, head of international affairs at the Thai Hotels Association in Bangkok. "We’re heading into high season, and the occupancy rates aren’t bad, but it’s also not as busy as we expected."
"We think the tourist numbers will recover later this year, boosted by the government’s efforts to win back confidence from Chinese tourists and tourism packages," said Naris Sathapholdeja, an economist at TMB Bank Pcl in Bangkok.
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