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Thailand targets 3 million foreign tourists this year under phased COVID-19 reopening

Thailand targets 3 million foreign tourists this year under phased COVID-19 reopening

Empty chairs are seen on a beach which is usually full of tourists in Phuket on Mar 11, 2020. (File photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

BANGKOK: Tourism-reliant Thailand expects about 3 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, tied to a phased reopening to vaccinated visitors later this year, the state tourism agency said on Wednesday (Jun 9).

The target is lower than the 4 million tourists projected by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in April, when the country's biggest COVID-19 outbreak so far emerged.

Thailand, which launched its mass vaccination campaign on Monday, will allow inoculated foreign tourists to visit Phuket island without a quarantine next month in a pilot scheme before reopening nine other provinces in October, after a year of tight entry restrictions.

Most of the 3 million arrivals are expected in the final quarter, with spending estimated at between 240 billion baht to 300 billion baht (US$7.7 billion to US$9.6 billion), Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, deputy governor of TAT, told Reuters.

READ: Thailand starts long-awaited COVID-19 vaccination drive

READ: COVID-19 curbs shutter thousands of Bangkok restaurants

Thailand usually attracts 3 million to 4 million foreign tourists per month in the fourth quarter, and "we want only a third of that", he said.

About 129,000 visitors are expected in the third quarter, he said. Thailand had just 28,701 arrivals from January to April.

For 2022, TAT expects 20 million foreign arrivals to spend 1.3 trillion baht, Siripakorn said.

That compares with 40 million in 2019, when tourists spent 1.91 trillion baht.

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Source: Reuters/kg

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