Thailand declares extra holiday to sustain tourism recovery

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Feb 13, 2024, 03:27 PM


Feb 13, 2024, 03:27 PM

BANGKOK - Thailand’s Cabinet approved an additional holiday for civil servants during the traditional new year festival in April as the South-east Asian nation seeks to sustain a recovery in its tourism industry.

The special holiday on April 12 will apply to government offices and other state agencies and extend the so-called Songkran festival period to five days until April 16.

The move will boost local tourism and spending, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said after a Cabinet meeting on Feb 13.

Since taking office six months ago, Mr Srettha’s government has rolled out several measures to boost tourism – what he calls a “quick win” – to shore up growth that’s averaged less than 2 per cent in the past decade.

The sector accounts for about 12 per cent of gross domestic product and nearly a fifth of jobs.

Thailand has seen a 48 per cent surge in foreign tourist arrivals to 4.4 million since the start of 2024 from a year ago, with more Chinese travellers visiting the country under a visa-waiver programme.

Almost 200,000 travellers from mainland China flocked to Thailand last week during the Chinese New Year holidays, up 68 per cent from a week earlier, official data showed.

The Thai government targets 35 million foreign arrivals in 2024, with 8 million expected from China.

Travellers from the mainland accounted for more than 25 per cent of the 40 million foreign visitors in 2019 but made up only about 3.5 million out of the 28 million tourists in 2023.

Tourism revenue from foreign visitors totalled 215 billion baht (S$8.1 billion) as of Feb 11, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. BLOOMBERG

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