Thailand still expects 32.4 million tourist arrivals this year

November 4, 2016 5:50 AM EDT

A group of Chinese tourists take a selfie next to the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo


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BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand still expects to reach its forecast of 32.4 million visitors this year, the tourism and sports minister said on Friday, a target that was revised lower in early October.

The military government declared a year-long period of mourning to mark the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died on Oct. 13 at the age of 88, after 70 years on the throne. It advised festivities be curtailed for the first 30 days of the king's death, although it also urged businesses to stay active.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told reporters that visitor arrivals rose 1.8 percent in October from a year earlier, or about 1.9 million.

"Visitor numbers in October were still positive but there were five days missing and we will get them later," she said, noting the preliminary data captured only 26 days.

"For the whole year, we still expect to achieve our 32 million target. But I don't want you to focus on the numbers but rather on revenue," she said.

Tourism accounts for about 10 percent of Thailand's GDP, and the industry has been a rare bright spot for an economy that has struggled to gain traction since the army seized power in May 2014 to end political unrest. The country's exports and domestic consumption have both been stubbornly sluggish.

The 32.4 million target was set on Oct. 4, which was cut from 33 million earlier due to a drop in Chinese tourists, Thailand's largest number of visitors following a Thai crackdown on cheap tour packages.

Restrictions on entertainment and television in Thailand will be lifted on Nov. 14.

The ministry has forecast revenue of 1.63 trillion baht ($46.60 billion) from foreign tourists this year, up 11.7 percent from 2015.

In the first nine months of 2016, the number of tourist arrivals was 24.82 million.

Last year, Thailand hosted a record 29.9 million visitors.

($1 = 34.98 baht)

(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)



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