Lunar New Year spending in Thailand is forecast to hit a three-year high this year as tourism rebounds after nearly three years of Covid disruptions.
Thailand’s consumer spending over the period could rise 13.6% to 45 billion baht ($1.36 billion), a university survey showed on Thursday, as the economy recovers and China’s border reopening bolsters tourism.
The estimated spending compares with 39.6 billion baht last year, Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, told a briefing.
“This Lunar New Year will be the most active in three years,” he said, adding the projected 13.6% spending growth this year would be the highest in 15 years.
“People are ready to spend though some with lower income are cautious,” he added, citing a consumer spending survey conducted by the university.
Lunar New Year celebrations normally signal a jump in spending by many Thais and visitors from China and other parts of Asia.
China’s reopening raises hopes for the return of Chinese visitors, who accounted for nearly a third of Thailand’s 40 million foreign tourist arrivals in pre-pandemic 2019.
The government expects at least five million Chinese tourists this year, with some 300,000 in the first quarter.
Thanavath said businesses are also upbeat about China’s reopening, which would help tourism and jobs in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, which he predicted would grow 3.6% this year, after an estimated growth of 3.3% in 2022.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara