BANGKOK, Thailand: Thailand finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has said that the country's economy is expected to grow 3.8 percent in 2023, due to the recovery of the tourism sector and cooling inflation.
In an interview with Radio Thailand, Arkhom said that domestic spending has increased and the government will accelerate investments in large projects to help the economy grow.
As the global slowdown has negatively affected exports, "tourism is our hope," he added.
As its tourism sector began to pick up in 2022, the Thai economy expanded a weaker-than predicted 2.6 percent, behind others in the region.
After exceeding its forecast in 2022 with 11.15 million visitors, the finance ministry of Southeast Asia's second-largest economy forecasted 27.5 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, compared to some 40 million foreign tourists in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the return of Chinese tourists this month, economic growth could exceed forecasts, Arkhom said, adding that any aggressive interest rate hikes would increase business costs and household debt, as the central bank has said rate increases will continue to curb consumer prices.
He also noted that inflation in food and energy should return to the central bank's target range of 1 to 3 percent this year, helped by government measures and lower food prices.
In 2022, inflation hit a 24-year high of 6.08 percent in Thailand.