The Ministry of Finance is maintaining its economic growth outlook for 2023 at 3.8%, helped by a rebound in tourism and domestic demand, but exports are still expected to slow down this year.

Pornchai Thiraveja, head of the ministry’s fiscal policy office, told a briefing that the Thai economy likely expanded 3.0% in 2022, down from a previous forecast of 3.4%, as exports, public investment and private consumption slowed.

Official gross domestic product (GDP) figures for 2022 are due to be released next month. In 2021, GDP grew 1.5%, among the lowest rates in the region.

Pornchai also noted that the tourism sector has been picking up steadily as the world relaxes international travel measures.

Tourism rebond

The tourism sector started rebounding last year with 11.15 million foreign tourist arrivals.

Since the new year began, Thailand has booked 1.34 million foreign tourists.

Pornchai added that the kingdom is expected to receive 27.5 million foreign arrivals this year, up from 21.5 million projected earlier, helped by China’s reopening.

5 million Chinese visitors this year

The government is projecting at least 5 million Chinese visitors this year, about half of the figure in pre-pandemic 2019.

Overall foreign tourist arrivals reached a record of nearly 40 million in 2019, with spending at 1.91 trillion baht (US$58.07 billion). Tourism accounted for about 12% of GDP.

Exports to grow only 0.4%

However, exports – another key driver of growth – could increase just 0.4% this year, rather than rise 2.5% as projected earlier due to a global slowdown.

The ministry meanwhile predicts the baht to average 32.5 per dollar this year after 35.07 last year, as Thailand is among the countries expected to see a continued economic recovery.

Headline inflation expected at 2.8%

Pornchai said average headline inflation is expected at 2.8% this year, down from a 24-year high of 6.08% last year, which was far above the Bank of Thailand’s target range of 1% to 3%.

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