The number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand topped 1 million in August for the first time in six months, brightening an otherwise dim outlook for the nation’s economy.

Chinese arrivals surged almost 19% to 1.03 million during the month compared with a year earlier, Tourism Ministry data showed Wednesday. Overall visitor growth of 7.4% was the strongest this year.

“It’s a positive surprise for the Thai tourism industry, especially with Chinese arrivals reaching a million,” said Kampon Adireksombat, Bangkok-based head of economic and financial market research at Siam Commercial Bank Pcl.

Tourism on some measures accounts for about a fifth of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, but the sector’s boom faltered earlier in 2019. Officials rolled out steps such as waiving visa fees to revive interest, and some analysts think Thailand may benefit as travelers skirt Hong Kong because of protests there.

Chinese arrivals are key for Thailand, accounting for nearly a third of 170 billion baht ($5.6 billion) in tourism receipts last month. Those receipts rose 6.2% in August from a year ago.

The U.S.-China trade war and an appreciating currency hurt Thai economic growth this year, prompting officials to loosen monetary policy and roll out a $10 billion stimulus package.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Photo Credit: Tourists at a floating market in Thailand. Bloomberg