(Bloomberg) -- Thailand is on course to meet its target for 28 million foreign tourist arrivals this year as a surge in visitors from neighboring Malaysia helps counter a slow recovery in the Chinese market, the biggest source of inbound travelers pre-Covid.

Total arrivals have topped 25 million so far this year, with the number of Malaysian travelers more than doubling from last year to 4 million, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. While about 3.1 million Chinese holidaymakers have visited Thailand this year, taking out second spot and up from 273,567 in 2022, this year’s tally is set to miss the official target of 4 million to 4.4 million, data showed.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects a further recovery to 35 million visitors next year, including 8.2 million from China. 

But that target “seems aggressive” after the disappointing Chinese tourist numbers this year, according to Krungsri Securities Pcl. Instead, total tourist arrivals could hit 33 million in 2024 due to a slower increase in Chinese visitors amid economic headwinds at home, analyst Sirilak Konwai said in a report.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is counting on tourism to accelerate the nation’s economic growth, with the sector accounting for about 12% of gross domestic product and nearly a fifth of jobs. His government has temporarily waived visas for travelers from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, India and Taiwan, and ordered airlines to add more routes while streamlining airport operations to reduce waiting times for visitors.

In 2019, the country saw record foreign arrivals — almost 40 million — which generated 1.91 trillion baht in revenue ($54 billion). That year, on average, each tourist spent 47,895 baht during their nine-day trip, according to official data. The country has generated 1.07 trillion baht this year from tourism.

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