Tourism will continue to be a powerful driver for economic growth this year, expected to generate 2.21 trillion baht in income from 41.1 million international arrivals.
The 38.3 million visitors welcomed last year that brought in 2.01 trillion baht are projected to rise 7.5% and 10%, respectively.
The revenue places Thailand fourth globally for tourism expenditure, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat.
The higher growth in tourism expenditure than visitor numbers may indicate Thailand is adapting higher-quality tourism, he said.
The growth in Thailand outpaced that of world tourism, with the UN World Tourism Organisation reporting international tourist arrivals rose by 6% last year to 1.4 billion.
The minister attributed tourism growth last year to several state measures to improve safety and convenience for visitors, such as establishing a tourism clinic and applying technology.
He said the scheme to promote secondary provinces, the popularity of the Thai historical television series Love Destiny and the "Un Ai Rak Khlai Khwam Nao" fair are boosting tourism in many provinces.
Last year, the number of domestic trips rose to 226 million trips, drawing more than 1.07 trillion baht in tourism income.
Mr Weerasak said the government's tax break scheme for tourism spending and seminars was conducted in 55 second-tier provinces, a move aimed at spurring travel and distributing income to non-popular destinations that welcome fewer than 4 million tourists a year, has narrowed income disparity in the country. The tax scheme helped increase number of visitors to these secondary locations to 90 million in 2018, up from 50 million in 2011.
The two provinces with highest growth were Ratchaburi and Chai Nat.
Buri Ram benefited largely from sport tourism events, namely the MotoGP World Championship and PTT Thailand Grandprix 2018. The events attracted more than 200,000 visitors and added some 3.1 billion baht in income to Buri Ram and provinces nearby.
Mr Weerasak said measures to ensure quality and safe tourism will be continued, with several marketing plans to draw visitors this year. Of the projected 41 million foreign tourists, 11.69 million are expected from China, up 11% from last year, followed by 11.31 million from Asean (up 10%), and 6.9 million from Europe (up 2%).