BANGKOK (REUTERS) – Thailand’s foreign tourist arrivals in July reached one million for the first time since early 2020, as tourism picks up following an easing of pandemic restrictions, bolstering economic growth prospects.

The tourism-reliant country received 1.07 million foreign visitors in July, up from 767,497 visitors the previous month, its Covid-19 task force said Thursday (Aug 4).

That was the highest level since the 2.06 million arrivals in February 2020, after which strict pandemic curbs devastated the lucrative sector, which typically accounts for 11 per cent to 12 per cent of Thailand’s gross domestic product.

Last year, there were just 428,000 foreign visitors, compared with a record of nearly 40 million in 2019.

With restrictions lifted, foreign arrivals in the first seven months soared nearly 5,300 per cent year-on-year to 3.15 million, with 157 billion baht ($6 billion) in spending, according to a televised task force presentation.

Thailand received close to 74,000 tourist arrivals on Monday (Aug 1) and Tuesday (Aug 2) alone, it said.

In June, the prime minister said the number of foreign tourists should reach 10 million this year. Last month, central bank Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput said the economy might beat the bank’s forecast this year due to stronger tourism.