Thailand’s tourist arrivals are forecast to rise between 3.75 percent to 5.8 percent next year, the Tourism Council said on Wednesday, driven largely by Chinese visitors.

Thailand’s tourism industry accounts for about 10 percent of gross domestic product. Budget-friendly Thailand expects up to 34.4 million tourists in 2017, council president Ittirit Kinglek said.

A crackdown earlier this year on cheap tour packages for Chinese tourists – known as “zero dollar tours” – has also failed to dent tourist arrivals, he said.

“Chartered flights from various Chinese cities declined afterwards for a short period but they are now back again. It’s an encouraging sign. We may see a decline in tourist arrivals in the first quarter but by the second quarter things will improve,” Ittirit said.

The tourism ministry has said it expects a record 32.4 million visitors this year.

The council forecasts about 9.17 million Chinese arrivals next year, up from 8.9 million in 2016.

Thailand’s centuries old exotic allure, its array of beaches and gilded Buddhist temples have ensured that the country remains one of the world’s top travel destinations.

Data for advance flight bookings to Thailand made between Dec. 31 to Jan. 3 showed a 40 percent increase in bookings from North and South America, the council said, followed by a 4 percent increase from the previous year in bookings from Europe.



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