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Growth of 3.1% in Thailand’s economy as tourism picks up

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In the April-June quarter, Thailand’s economy expanded by around 3.1%, a rise from the previous quarter’s growth of 2.7%. This upswing is attributed to the increased influx of foreign tourists, as predicted by a median survey of 21 economists.

Quarterly calculations indicate that the gross domestic product (GDP) growth, when seasonally adjusted, is projected to be approximately 1.2%. This marks a slowdown compared to the preceding quarter’s growth of 1.9%, as indicated by a smaller set of forecasts gathered between August 14 and 17 in a Reuters poll.

Although Thailand’s economy, which heavily relies on tourism, is anticipated to exhibit gradual improvement, the number of visitors remains significantly lower than the levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic. The projection for this year suggests that Thailand might welcome around 29 million tourists, a decrease from the 40 million visitors recorded in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit.

As of August 13, the Tourism and Sports Ministry reported a total of 16.47 million foreign tourists visiting Thailand from January, with a total expenditure amounting to 690 billion baht (equivalent to US$19.48 billion).

Exports, which play a crucial role in driving growth, have been contracting since October 2022, reflecting subdued global demand, particularly from China, Thailand’s primary trading partner.

Chua Han Teng, an economist at DBS, noted that the ongoing recovery in foreign tourism, including returning visitors from China, along with resilient private consumption, were the pillars supporting the expansion of the economy. However, the decline in merchandise exports, although stabilizing, continued to impede overall growth, thus preventing a more robust improvement in the second quarter of 2023, due to the challenging global economic environment.

The growth forecast for the year shows an average of 3.7%, aligning with the estimate from the Bank of Thailand (BoT). Additionally, a separate Reuters poll indicated that growth is expected to reach 3.8% in 2024.


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