Thailand says the number of tourists went up last year after coronavirus restrictions were lifted, but they were still a long way below what they were before the pandemic.
In 2022, there were 11.81 million tourists in South East Asia, compared to only 400,000 the year before.
This year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand thinks that number will more than double to 25 million.
But those numbers are still a lot less than the record 39.8 million tourists who visited Thailand in 2019.
Starting in June, the country will charge each foreign visitor 300 baht ($9.20 or £7.40).
Thailand wants to have 80 million tourists every year by 2027.
In 2019, tourism income made up more than 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country. In 2021, only 1% did. GDP is an important way to see how well or badly an economy is doing because it measures all economic activity.
The Thai government wants to spend more than $150bn on tourism by getting more than twice as many people to visit as they did before the pandemic.
In a Facebook post, the government’s Public Relations Department said, “Once this goal is met, the country’s tourism revenue could reach 5tn baht in 2027.”
The news release also said that Thailand plans to raise “tourism safety standards” to deal with the growing number of tourists.
This month, the country said it was going to ask visitors to Thailand for proof that they had been vaccinated against Covid-19, but then quickly changed its mind.
Since China no longer has strict border controls as it did during the pandemic, it is likely that the number of Chinese tourists coming to Thailand will go up. This is the case for most of South East Asia.
In December, China’s immigration office said that Chinese citizens who want to travel abroad could start applying for passports again on January 8.
The statement signaled the end of the stringent quarantine regulations, which had been in effect for nearly three years. This caused a rush of people to booking trips overseas, and travel sites reported a rise in traffic.
Before the pandemic, almost 11 million tourists from China came to Thailand in 2019. At least 5 million Chinese tourists are expected to visit the country this year.