Thailand’s Department of Tourism has announced that the country earned $60m (baht1.8bn) from foreign shoots in 2010, doubling the $30m (baht900m) earned the previous year.

According to statistics from the Thailand Film Office, 578 productions were filmed in Thailand last year, including feature films, documentaries, TV series, commercials and music videos. Production teams from India and Japan lead the way with 128 and 123 shoots respectively, followed by Europe with 91 and Korea with 41 shoots.

A total of 49 feature films shot in Thailand in 2010, up from 37 in 2009, despite concerns around the political unrest and protests in Bangkok last May that resulted in more than 80 deaths.

Films to shoot in Thailand in the second half of last year include Universal Pictures’ Scorpion King 3; Luc Besson’s The Lady, a biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi starring Michelle Yeoh, and France’s Largo Winch 2: The Burma Conspiracy. Currently Legendary Pictures’ The Hangover 2 is shooting in Bangkok.

Thailand Film Office director Wanasiri Morakul acknowledged the strong Baht is resulting in slightly higher production services costs, but said low costs were not the only factor drawing foreign shoots to Thailand.

“Foreign filmmakers consistently note the availability of top quality equipment, exotic locations and multilingual/cultural Thai crews that work extremely hard,” Morakul said.

Department of Tourism director general Supol Sripan said he expected additional growth in 2011 as the Thai government has approved the exemption of film shooting fees in areas owned by seven state offices. However, a further raft of financial incentives, including a 100% VAT cash refund and a tax credit of 20-25%, are still under review by the Revenue Department.