A temple in Bangkok (Source: Xinhua)

Bangkok (VNA) – Despite various measures to improve its image, Thailand has struggled to end its slump in the number of Chinese visitors, which is a great risk to an economy that is largely dependent on tourism.

An unofficial report showed that the number of Chinese visitors to Thailand fell 12 percent in August 2018, the strongest drop in over a year, pushing the total number of foreign tourists to the country down to nearly lowest level in 16 months.

Chinese tourists are the main source of foreign currency income for Thailand’s tourism sector, which makes up about one fifth of the country’s total GDP.

Thailand estimates that Chinese visitors contribute one third of the total 65 billion USD that foreign tourists spend in the Southeast Asian country each year.

The major reason behind the fall is the July boat accident in Phuket which killed dozens of Chinese tourists, along with other problems such as dengue fever outbreak, the rise in price of the Thai baht, and the recent highly-publicised incident involving the violent behaviour of a Thai airport guard towards a Chinese tourist.

The Thai stock market has also suffered from the situation as tourism prices and entertainment shares have decreased by 14 percent this year alongside a drop of 0.3 percent of the whole market. The Tourism Authority of Thailand predicted that the number of tourists from China may reach about 1.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, equivalent to one fourth of the previous year’s figure.

Although the Bank of Thailand has forecast that the number of international tourists will recover to 38 million this year, Khampon Adireksombat from Kasikorn Securities held that the growth of the tourism sector may slow down, which, together with impacts from the global trade war, may pull Thai economic growth to 4.2 percent in 2019 over the expectation of 4.5 percent in 2018. –VNA