Economy Thai economy beats GDP forecast as tourism grows By Reuters May 15, 2023 Reuters/Chalinee Thirasupa Tourism in Thailand rebounded as visitors from China returned Thailand’s economy expanded faster than expected in the first quarter, official data showed. It was boosted by a rebound in private consumption and tourism, which will help to counter a slowdown in exports. South-east Asia’s second-largest economy grew 2.7 percent in the January-to-March period from a year earlier, data from the National Economic and Social Development Council (Nesdc) showed. Economists in a Reuters poll had expected GDP to expand 2.3 percent year on year in the period, after increasing 1.4 percent in the previous three months. On a quarterly basis, GDP rose a seasonally adjusted 1.9 percent in the March quarter, versus a forecast rise of 1.7 percent. Fourth-quarter GDP in 2022 was revised to a 1.1 percent contraction, from an earlier 1.5 percent fall. The tourism-reliant economy’s recovery has lagged its regional peers because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but turned a corner as Chinese tourists returned in recent months boosting employment and domestic demand. The revival of the vital tourism sector will help to offset the impact from declining exports. The Nesdc kept its 2023 GDP growth forecast at 2.7 percent to 3.7 percent. The economy grew 2.6 percent in 2022.