BANGKOK: Despite the stronger Thai baht against the ringgit, a total of 2.96 million Malaysians travelled to Thailand in the first nine months of this year, contributing 75.63 billion baht (RM10.5 billion) in tourism receipts.
Based on the latest statistics from Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS), Malaysian tourist arrivals grew by 5.56 per cent from 2.80 million in the same period last year.
“A total of 75.63 billion baht in tourism receipts was recorded from January to September this year compared to 70.88 billion baht last year, an increase of 6.69 per cent,” it said.
The Thai baht has been the best performer among Asian currencies this year, strengthening more than six per cent against the US dollar.
The currency advanced as much as 0.2 per cent on Friday to 30.228 per dollar, the strongest level since May 2013.
Analysts predicted the baht would strengthen further to reach 30.50 baht against the greenback by the end of this year.
Based on the Interbank Foreign Exchange Market in Kuala Lumpur, the ringgit was traded at RM13.85 versus 100 baht on Friday.
Meanwhile, the MoTS statistics showed the highest number of tourist arrivals was from China.
A total of 8.52 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand from January to September, an increase of 1.71 per cent compared to 8.37 million tourists in the corresponding period last year.
The expenditure of Chinese tourists also rose 4.14 per cent year-on-year to 426.89 billion baht from 409.93 billion baht previously.
Meanwhile, Indian tourist arrivals recorded the highest increase for the first nine months of this year at 25.6 per cent – from 1.17 million tourists last year to 1.47 million. Indians spent 62.04 billion baht this year up to September compared to 47.30 billion baht in the year-ago period, a growth of 31.14 per cent.
For January to September this year, Thailand recorded an increase of 3.51 per cent in international tourist arrivals to 29.47 million from 28.47 million previously.
“Overall spending rose 3.45 per cent from 1.381 trillion baht in 2018 to 1.429 trillion baht this year,” MoTS said.
To boost tourist arrivals, Thailand has green-lit a six-month extension of the Visa-on-Arrival (VOA) fee waiver campaign.
On Thursday, the Thai Cabinet approved in principle the draft fee waiver extension from Oct 31 to April 30 next year.
Deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisaranakul said the campaign had proved successful in boosting tourist arrivals in the kingdom.
“The waiver will cost the government 10.764 billion baht in lost revenue from fee collection.
“However, it is expected to generate 144.732 billion baht revenue from the tourism sector,” she said.
A 2,000 baht VOA will be waived for visitors from Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu.