February tourist arrivals in Thailand fall sharply due to COVID-19 hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) -
The number of tourist arrivals in Thailand fell 44.3 percent in February from a year earlier due to the coronavirus epidemic, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said on March 9.

Visitors from China, Thailand's biggest source of tourists, tumbled 85.3 percent, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn told a meeting of tourism operators.

In the worst-case scenario, the number of foreign tourists may fall to 30 million this year from last year's 39.8 million, with spending down 22 percent, if the virus situation bottoms in May, he said.

Just last week, Yuthasak said tourist numbers might drop by 6 million this year.

Tourism is crucial to Thailand as spending by foreign visitors amounted to 1.93 trillion THB (61.15 billion USD) last year, or 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The government said last week it will seek Cabinet approval on March 10 for a 3.2 billion USD stimulus package to ease the virus impact.

But Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on March 9 there would be no such cash handouts./.