BANGKOK, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- International tourist arrivals rose 8.8 percent in 2017 to a record 35.38 million, equivalent to half of Thailand's population, Thailand's tourism body unveiled on Tuesday.
Thailand saw the tourism revenue of more than 1.8 trillion baht (56 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017, a rise of nearly 12 percent from that of 2016, the Ministry of Sports and Tourism announced.
Chinese tourists remain the biggest contributor to Thai tourism, with more than 9.8 million visitors generating about 524.4 billion baht (16.3 billion U.S.dollars) to the country, said government tourism and sports official Pongpanu Svetarundra.
According to data showed by the ministry, the amount of Chinese tourists has risen 11.97 percent and there is a jump of more than 15 percent in terms of their spending compared to the same period of 2016.
Malaysia ranks the second in international tourist arrivals to Thailand with an amount of more than 3.3 million, followed by South Korea with about 1.7 million visitors to the Kingdom, said the ministry.
Kasikorn research center, a Thai think tank, anticipates the number of international tourists in 2018 to reach 37.64 million-37.99 million, up 6.5-7.5 percent from an expected growth of 8.7 percent in 2017.
It also forecasts that inbound tourism activities in 2018 would generate approximately 2.01 trillion baht(62.5 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue, rising 10.4 percent versus an estimated growth of 11.7 percent in 2017.
The think tank says the tourism trend in 2018 will be driven externally by an international trend to link information and communication technology with hospitality business.
Locally, the government agencies are gearing up various marketing activities, including the Tourism Authority of Thailand's "Thainess" campaign, Sport Tourism and the promotion of culinary experiences.