Mr Phiphat said he believes 1.5mn Chinese travellers will visit Thailand in December if Xi allows outbound tourism to resume that month.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday Xi confirmed he would attend the Apec summit on Nov 18-19, reports the Bangkok Post.
“I am confident we will definitely reach the goal of 10 million foreign tourists by the end of this year,” Mr Phiphat said.
The country exceeded the halfway point with 5.7mn inbound visitors in the first nine months of 2022.
He said 1.5mn foreign tourists are expected to visit Thailand each month between October and December, which would push the total for the year to more than 10mn.
If extra Chinese tourists are included, the inbound market could reach 12mn, said Mr Phiphat.
He said because the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have maintained a close relationship with Chinese authorities during the pandemic, he hopes China might relax travel restrictions in December as a gift for Thailand, the host of the summit.
Mr Phiphat said flights between Thailand and southern China have more than doubled to 15 per week, up from seven flights per week, with most passengers students and businessmen.
Meanwhile, a full Japanese reopening on Oct 11 is expected to benefit both Thailand and Japan, as tourist exchanges between the two countries were very strong prior to the pandemic, with high numbers of travellers in both directions.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Thailand received 1.78mn Japanese travellers in 2019, while the Japan National Tourism Organization reported 1.31mn Thai tourists in the same year.
Mr Phiphat said a further easing of entry controls in the large markets of Hong Kong and Taiwan will enable stronger tourist flows from those markets and Thailand, particularly outbound to Hong Kong as the city is a preferred destination for Thais.
Thai outbound tourists to Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2019 totalled 429,069 and 379,450, respectively.
For the domestic Thai market, he said the number of local trips should reach 160mn as targeted, thanks to the “We Travel Together” subsidy campaign and the co-payment scheme.
Moreover, some local travellers might refrain from making overseas trips because of health and safety concerns, said Mr Phiphat.
Despite his confidence in the arrival numbers, he said one concern is lower spending by visitors, which could affect the B1.5-trillion revenue target set by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier this year.