Thailand says tourist numbers boomed last year as coronavirus restrictions were eased, but remained below pre-pandemic levels.

The Southeast Asia holiday destination sees 11.81 million tourists in 2022 - up from just 400,000 last year. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has also forecast that figure will more than double to 25 million this year.

However, those figures still pale in comparison to the record 39.8m tourists Thailand saw in 2019. The country is set to start charging each foreign visitor 300 baht from the beginning of June.

Thailand now aims to increase tourist arrivals to 80m per year by 2027. Tourism revenue accounted for more than 10% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. In 2021 it was just 1%. GDP, which measures all economic activity, is an important tool to see how well or badly an economy is doing.

The Thai government expects to see tourism spending increase by more than $150bn, aiming to more than double the number of people visiting before the pandemic.

"This target, once achieved, could increase the country's tourism revenue by 5tn baht in 2027," the government's public relations department said in a Facebook post.

This month the country announced, but then quickly retracted, a decision to request proof of COVID-19 vaccination for visitors entering Thailand. Like much of Southeast Asia, Thailand is expected to see a boom in tourist numbers from China, which lifted strict border controls during the pandemic.

In December, China's immigration administration said passport applications for citizens wishing to travel internationally would resume on January 8.


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