Thailand cuts 2017 tourism forecast

WEB_PHOTO_Thailand_Tourism_251215

This picture taken on August 23, 2015 shows tourists disembarking from a ferry along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok.

This picture taken on August 23, 2015 shows tourists disembarking from a ferry along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok.

WEB_PHOTO_Thailand_Tourism_251215

This picture taken on August 23, 2015 shows tourists disembarking from a ferry along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok.

This picture taken on August 23, 2015 shows tourists disembarking from a ferry along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok.

BANGKOK - Thailand's tourism minister on Thursday said the country expects 33 to 34 million visitors this year, down from an earlier ministry forecast of 35 million.

"Right now Thailand has welcomed 27 million already this year so I think for the whole year we should get 33 to 34 ," tourism minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told reporters. She did not give a reason for the downwardly-revised forecast.

That would still be a record for Thailand, which welcomed 32.6 million foreign visitors in 2016, driven largely by Chinese tourists.

Thailand is heavily dependent on its tourism industry which accounts for around 12 percent of the economy.

Thailand has seen at least two coups over the past decade and several natural disasters, including nationwide floods in 2011 which crippled industry, but those events have failed to dent travellers' enthusiasm for the Southeast Asian country.