Bangkok, Jan 23 (EFE).- Thailand, which in October withdrew practically all Covid-19 restrictions, expects to attract 25 million tourists this year, two thirds of the figure in 2019, before the pandemic, according to the latest official data.
Authorities hope to benefit from the reopening of China, which on Feb. 6 will once again allow group travel to about 20 countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Cuba and Argentina.
The Public Relations Department of the Thai government reported on its Facebook page that last year it received 11.81 million tourists, 27 times more than in 2021, when the number lowered to 427,000.
The department said it is updating security measures to accommodate the sharp increase in arrivals, while targeting a target of reaching 80 million tourists by 2027.
That year, authorities hope to be able to raise THB 5 trillion ($152.4 billion.)
The presence of Chinese tourists is increasingly visible in Thailand in emblematic places such as the Temple of Dawn or during the Chinese New Year celebrations last weekend.
China, which has closed its borders and applied strict restrictions, including daily PCR tests, for almost three years, has been the latest country to abandon the “zero Covid-19” strategy.
In December, the country began post-pandemic normalization after removing some of the restrictions of its strategy and in January with the relaxation of foreign travel measures.
Thailand expects about 5 million Chinese tourists to come this year, compared with about 11 million in 2019, a third of the total 39.8 million visitors received that year.
Thai authorities began in February 2022 to relax restrictions imposed against Covid-19 for arrivals from abroad and, in a multi-stage process, returned to the “old normal” in October by lifting almost all measures.
Although the use of masks is no longer mandatory in the country since the end of June, the Thai Health Ministry recommends that the population continue to use them in closed places, with little ventilation or a high concentration of people, and many Thais continue to use them daily.
International tourism in Thailand, which in 2019 accounted for between 12 and 20 percent of Thai GDP, fell to 6.7 million visits in 2020 and 420,000 in 2021, sending industry revenue plummeting. EFE