(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s cabinet approved an additional holiday for civil servants during the traditional new year festival in April as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to sustain a recovery in its tourism industry.
The special holiday on April 12 will apply to government offices and other state agencies and extend the so-called Songkran festival period to five days until April 16. The move will boost local tourism and spending, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Since taking office six months ago, Srettha’s government has rolled out several measures to boost tourism — what he calls a “quick win” — to shore up growth that’s averaged less than 2% in the past decade. The sector accounts for about 12% of gross domestic product and nearly a fifth of jobs.
Thailand has seen a 48% surge in foreign tourist arrivals to 4.4 million since the start of the year from a year ago with more Chinese travelers visiting the country under a visa-waiver program. Almost 200,000 travelers from mainland China flocked to Thailand last week during the Chinese New Year holidays, up 68% from a week earlier, official data showed.
The Thai government targets 35 million foreign arrivals this year, with 8 million expected from China. Travelers from the mainland accounted for more than 25% of the 40 million foreign visitors in 2019 but made up only about 3.5 million out of the 28 million tourists last year.
Tourism revenue from foreign visitors totaled 215 billion baht ($6 billion) as of Feb. 11, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
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