Thailand's finance ministry on Friday trimmed its 2022 economic growth outlook to 3.4% from 3.5% projected earlier on slower investment, but an official said private consumption and the crucial tourism sector would continue to drive growth.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy should expand 3.8% in 2023 as tourism picks up pace and inflation eases, Pornchai Thiraveja, head of the ministry's fiscal policy office, told a briefing. The economy grew 1.5% last year, among the slowest pace in the region.

The tourism-reliant country is expected to receive 10.3 million foreign arrivals this year, up from the 8 million projected three months ago, Pornchai said, adding the number should jump to 21.5 million next year.

"The tourism sector may perform better than expected, particularly if Chinese tourists can travel more," he said, adding a weak baht was also helping the industry.

In pre-pandemic 2019, there were nearly 40 million foreign tourists who spent 1.91 trillion baht ($50.64 billion)

However, a global slowdown and interest rate hikes in key trading countries would be closely monitored, he said, adding the ministry still had fiscal room to help affected groups.

The ministry now predicts exports, another key driver of growth, will rise 8.1% this year, up from the 7.7% increase previously forecast, and increase 2.5% next year.

Headline inflation slowed in September but, at 6.41%, remained well above the central bank's target range of 1-3%.

The ministry projects headline inflation of 6.2% this year, down from a previous forecast of 6.5%, and sees inflation of 2.9% next year. ($1 = 37.72 baht) (Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai Editing by Ed Davies, Kanupriya Kapoor)