Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand. The country recently has attracted more and more tourists from China. (Shutterstock/ESB Professional)
Tourism is the gift that keeps on giving in Thailand, thanks especially to China.
Visitors from the world’s most-populous nation surged to a record 1.2 million in February, swelled by the Lunar New Year holiday period, Tourism Ministry data released Wednesday in Bangkok showed. The kingdom expects 38 million tourists overall this year, including more than 10 million from China.
Thailand’s relationship with Chinese tourists has sometimes been rocky. Visitor numbers collapsed toward the end of 2016, when the Thai administration cracked down on operators bringing in large groups from China on cut-price holidays. Those curbs were eventually eased and numbers have since rocketed.
Tourism is worth about a fifth of the Thai economy and has been an important growth driver for the military government that took power almost four years ago. But the boom is clogging infrastructure and threatens to take a bigger environmental cost on the beaches attracting so many visitors.