Thailand says January tourist arrivals up 15.9%

Thursday, 5 February 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • 2015 arrivals seen at 28 million, up 13%: Ministry
  • Arrivals fell 6.7% in 2014, due to political unrest

BANGKOK (Reuters): The number of tourists arriving in Thailand rose for a fourth straight month in January as the key industry continued to recover after an army coup in May that ended months of street protests. The number of foreign tourists in January was 2.65 million, or 15.9% more than a year earlier, Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said in a statement. The visitors spent about 120 billion baht ($ 3.7 billion), up 12.7% from a year earlier, she said. “We expect to continue to enjoy a steady increase in the first quarter, especially in February due to high demand from the Chinese market during this coming Lunar New Year,” she added. The January figure compares with an annual rise of 11.76% in December and a 1.55% drop in January 2014, Department of Tourism data showed. For all of 2014, foreign arrivals declined 6.66%. For this year, the ministry expects 28 million foreign tourists, up 13% from 2014, but down from its forecast late last year of 29 million, a ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday. Tourism, which accounts for about 10% of the Thai economy, suffered the biggest drop in numbers in June 2014, the first full month after the coup. Thailand started to get on-year growth in October, helped by free visas for China nationals, the biggest group of tourists. Last year, there were 4.62 million Chinese tourists, or 18.7% of total arrivals. Thailand is still under martial law and several countries have kept in place travel warnings on the country.